Jets' Aaron Rodgers to his doubters: 'Watch what I do'

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Friday, September 15, 2023

A defiant Aaron Rodgers, only two days removed from Achilles tendon surgery, vowed Friday to make a full recovery, confirming he intends to continue his career with the New York Jets.

While acknowledging "some odds [are] stacked against me based on age," the 39-year-old quarterback -- the oldest player in the NFL -- said he intends to prove the naysayers wrong.

"Give me the doubts, give me the timetables, give me all the things that you think can, should or will happen, because all I need is that one little extra percent of inspiration," he said on "The Pat McAfee Show" -- his first public comments since the injury.

"That's all I need. So, give me your doubts, give me your prognostications and then watch what I do."

While he avoided giving any specific timetables, Rodgers didn't dismiss the possibility of returning for the postseason -- which seems highly unlikely based on the traditional rehab period.

"I think as Kevin Garnett said, 'Anything is possible,'" he said.

The four-time MVP said he already has "put together a pretty damn good rehab plan that's going to, I think, shock some people."

Speaking from his home in Malibu, California, Rodgers was in an upbeat mood. It was much different Monday night at MetLife Stadium, where he sobbed uncontrollably in the Jets trainers' room. He said he knew immediately he had torn the Achilles. He had "popped" his calf a few times in his career, but this felt different. He described it as a "drop-foot" sensation.

Rodgers called it "one of the toughest 24-hour stretches I've had in my life."

From the stadium, he texted Los Angeles-based doctor Neal ElAttrache, who treated his broken collarbone in 2017. Rodgers also remembered that ElAttrache had repaired Kobe Bryant's torn Achilles in 2013 -- an eight-month recovery.

"I didn't want to waste any time," said Rodgers, who was injured on the fourth snap of the Jets' season-opening win over the Buffalo Bills.

He was at his New Jersey home by the time Xavier Gipson won the game with a walk-off touchdown on a punt return in overtime. By Wednesday, he was in Los Angeles for surgery.

"A lot of sadness, a lot of tears, a lot of dark frustration and anger, the gamut of emotions," he said. "But the sun rose the next day and I found myself in L.A. and had surgery on Wednesday, and since then I've been feeling better."

Rodgers wouldn't say how long he'd be in Los Angeles, but he indicated a desire to return to the team to help out behind the scenes.

Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers made headlines in 2021 for his quick return from a torn Achilles. It happened in July, and he made it back for the final regular-season game and postseason -- a five-month recovery.

"I'm going to try and push this thing as much as it'll allow me to," Rodgers said. "And there are markers. I've got to see where I'm at after a week and two weeks and a month and two months, and then we'll see what the conversation is from there."

He said he's in fact-finding mode, having spent the past two days calling people for advice and information on how to attack his rehab.

Coach Robert Saleh said the team eagerly awaits Rodgers' return.

"We've been in contact with him daily," Saleh said. "He's excited to get back here. Obviously, there's a healing process he has to go through with the incisions and all that stuff, but as soon as that's done, we'll get him back here. But he's fully engaged. He's awesome."

Meanwhile, the Jets are dealing with a new injury that could impact their plans for Sunday's game at the Dallas Cowboys. Kicker Greg Zuerlein didn't practice Friday after injuring his groin Thursday, and he's listed as questionable for the game. The Jets were scheduled to audition kickers Friday, just in case Zuerlein can't play.

"It's not serious," Saleh said, "but serious enough to bring this game into question."

Related Video