The Jets seemed to be celebrating "Old Head Day" at training camp. Wide receiver Randall Cobb, one of those old heads who just turned 33 on Tuesday, went from talking about his game after Wednesday's practice to talking about a slightly less gray head in fellow WR Corey Davis, who just announced his retirement from the NFL.
"Life is bigger than football," Cobb said, exchanging his football headgear for a philosopher's hat for a few moments. "This is something that we do but it's not who we are. I wish Corey well, and I'm going to be in his corner. I live not too far away from him in Tennessee, so I'm going to check up on him and be supportive of him the best I can."
That decision to put the pads on the hook in his locker and say goodbye to the game is usually not easy, and particularly for Davis, who's a mere 28 years of age and six full seasons a pro. That's compared to Cobb, the loquacious, natural-born leader who said that with some physical situations that he fought through the past few years, even he was thinking of saying the "R word."
"Everyone's different. Everyone has different things they're going through in life, different challenges," Cobb said. "For me, I did have that thought, I did think about it. In the end, I knew I wasn't ready to hang it up, I knew I wasn't done playing. I have so much love for this game. I know I can't play this game when I'm 60, but as long as I can still do it, I want to keep doing it."
And that's what Cobb will do on the Jets offense that features a couple of more old heads in 15th-season and almost 38-year-old left tackle Duane Brown, who returned to practice Wednesday from his shoulder rehab, and of course Aaron Rodgers, who will turn 40 before his 19th NFL season and his first with the Jets comes to a close in the new year.
Rodgers earlier this week was asked about one aspect of his pigskin personality, a certain ramping up of passion while hard at work with his teammates.
"There may have been some comments about me that I don't know are true anymore," he said. "You know, Cobby said some things about how you've got to watch out because you know 8's going to snap at some point. I don't feel like I'm the snapping type anymore. I mean, I'm going to raise my level of intensity, but that doesn't mean I'm going to embarrass anybody. I don't want to do that. I want to make guys feel like they're a part of this and they're going to get that respect and that kindness."
Cobb may have said that a few years ago when 8 wore 12 in green and gold. But after this most recent practice, the wideout said Rodgers definitely is more tolerant this season.
"He's been very patient. Having a bunch of new faces, obviously they're learning a new offense, but they're also learning about playing with him as well," Cobb said. "So it's just getting on the same page and meshing and mastering the details that we talk about all the time in our meeting room, and how we do things, our body language on certain routes. He's been very patient with allowing guys to grow at their own time, push and get better."
See the best photos of the Jets during the last public practice of 2023 Jets Training Camp.
Cobb naturally can help the Jets' now slightly younger WR group in the patience department. His relationship with Rodgers has been cemented soon after the two were first united on the Packers in 2011. After two seasons away from Cheese Country, he was reunited with ARod and the Pack in 2021-22 and now again on the Jets.
And he's looking to add to his regular-season pro stat line of 625 receptions for 7,585 yards, not to mention e the touchdowns — Rodgers-to-Cobb has produced 45 regular-season TDs, five more in the playoffs, and even two in the preseason. With those two old heads preparing to play Saturday night against the Giants, perhaps a third summer scoring connection could be in the works?
But Cobb's love for the game transcends his own stats and facts. It helps him, as a first-year Jet and a 13th-year pro, to enjoy the exploits of all the young guns around him — "It's been a lot of fun seeing guys grow over training camp," he said.
And the love helps him survive those bittersweet moments, when perhaps a friend and a teammate and a leader like Corey Davis has to make that tough call to transition out of football and back to life.