Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets got off to a shaky start


Now, out of the darkness, Aaron Rodgers invites a new team into his “Sanctuary of Solace”.

In other words, the famous nonconformist is about to put an end to the shenanigans and play for the New York Jets. Rodgers can describe it however he likes, but the franchise he “intends” to play for next season is still the Jets, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2010. It sounds mystical to pull out of the light, contemplate an inevitable outcome and unveil the vague details of a California meet-up with a team desperate for quarterback star power. But Rodgers, a great player with diminishing reliability, goes to a team where good intentions die.

For all the excitement Rodgers will generate once the Green Bay Packers agree to a trade and divorce their four-time MVP, his arrival in New York will offer neither a refuge from dysfunction nor long-term consolation for a talented young team looking to looking for a quick solution.

During an interview on The Pat McAfee Show Wednesday, Rodgers used the term “sanctuary of solace” to keep the specific details of his potential alliance with the Jets private. But their actions already this offseason — which include hiring former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, signing former Green Bay wide receiver Allen Lazard and reportedly considering a list of quarterback personnel preferences — come as close as an oath of allegiance to a star player can afford from an NFL franchise. Consider it the first worrying sign.

Aaron Rodgers, still a packer, says his “intent” is to play for the Jets

Any relationship with Rodgers that begins with a fear of saying no is doomed to be tested over and over again until mass anger sets in. It’s understandable why the Jets would go on a convincing charm offensive to get Rodgers to play for them, but they need to develop an equal partnership. You’re off to a shaky start.

Rodgers needs freedom, but he needs guardrails. It requires a little pampering, but it can be trained hard and persuaded to respect a team building philosophy if an organization has a solid approach. Have the Jets reached that level of competency?

Coach Robert Saleh has shown promising performances in two seasons. In nearly four years as general manager, Joe Douglas has countered his mistakes with enough high-profile hitting to mold a team with several desirable high-end players, a defensive identity that suits Saleh’s strengths, and a good momentum — if she has one acquire quarterback who can play. Zach Wilson, the second overall pick of the 2021 draft, was a disappointment with his shaky performance and bad temper. Now they’re holding their breath during negotiations with Green Bay, hoping that at 39, Rodgers still has the gas left to help them overcome the roster misalignment they’ll create on a team whose most gifted players, Cornerback Sauce Gardner and wide receiver Garrett Wilson are 17 years younger than their would-be quarterback.

It’s difficult to deal with Rodgers, who sometimes denies responsibility by expressing frustration at the mistakes made by inexperienced players. Because of Green Bay’s consistency, Rodgers hasn’t played with as many high-draft picks as the Jets. But he still has to answer for inconsistencies and if he’s playing the blame game, there might be more egos to settle in this dressing room.

It’s all such weird historical redundancy: Fifteen years after the Packers handed over a grizzled and disaffected Brett Favre to the Jets, they’re on the verge of bringing the superstar who succeeded him into the same place.

When Green Bay’s legendary quarterbacks get pissed off and shrug off their ambiguous retirement plans, they flee to New York. It’s officially trending. Diva deja vu.

On Wednesday, Rodgers said goodbye to Green Bay while also making a strong “Hey, don’t blame me!” statement.

“I fucking love this town,” Rodgers said during the McAfee interview. “I love this organization and will always love this organization. The fact is, now they want to move on, and now I want to too.”

The commanders sign Jacoby Brissett, adding depth to the quarterback

Of course, it’s more complicated than that. Rodgers can make talking about the weather complicated. While Green Bay has been preparing to move on since drafting Jordan Love three years ago, Rodgers is not the victim of cutthroat NFL deals. He’s distanced himself from the only franchise he knew — and reality — for several seasons.

But Rodgers and the Packers enjoyed a resurgence that delayed their split, with the quarterback adding two more MVPs to his résumé in 2020 and 2021. NFC title games back in 2019 and 2020.

Then, after selling Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders and failing to replenish the receiving corps, the Packers fell behind, slipping to an 8-9 record and losing to the Detroit Lions in the regular-season Finals, which they did cost a place in the playoffs.

When Rodgers spoke afterwards, he hinted at the end of his run.

“It doesn’t always end with rainbows for everyone,” he said that January night.

For the Jets, it will start with rainbows. Or it will at the end of this time of fear. Rodgers made the entire NFL wait until the start of the free hand to have his predictable moment of clarity. Now all the Jets have to do is haggle over compensation for going down a road owner Woody Johnson previously traveled.

In 2008, Favre came out of a five-month retirement — aka an upset offseason — and the Packers traded him to New York. He was about to turn 39. The Jets were happy about the missing quarterback and Favre led them to an 8-3 start. They lost four of their last five games, missed the playoffs, and Favre led the NFL with 22 interceptions. And that was it.

The next season, Favre went to Minnesota and enjoyed one last dominant season. He was motivated by his failures the previous year, but the turnaround also underscored how ill-equipped the Jets were to minimize his mistakes and make the most of what he had left.

You must be wondering if Johnson learned anything from this debacle. The rest of the Brain Trust didn’t have to deal with such a high-profile, high-profile, high-explosive takeover in a market that will magnify all blemishes. Johnson is dreaming of opportunities again, but he may have forgotten the pitfalls.

Prior to his retreat into obscurity, Rodgers said he was 90 percent certain he would retire. Now he wants to be a jet.

Next season will be wonderful or it will be a disaster. Even if it’s wonderful for one season, it won’t end with rainbows if it lasts beyond that.

Today, the Jets look like a team with a future. But in Rodgers’ sanctuary of solace, only the present matters. And he can turn off the light at any time.

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