Young Jets players are “starstruck” around Aaron Rodgers
Plenty of folks in New York are fascinated by the arrival of Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Some of those folks play for the Jets.
Rich Cimini of ESPN.com has posted a collection of quotes from young members of the team who are in awe of their new teammate.
Linebacker Quincy Williams, via Cimini, said he’s “starstruck” by Rodgers. Guard Alijah Vera-Tucker says it’s “surreal” to have Rodgers on the team.
Receiver Garrett Wilson, the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year for 2022, said, “This is something 20 years from now, 30 years from now, I’ll tell my kids: ‘I played with Aaron Rodgers.’”
Of course, Wilson’s kids might not know who Aaron Rodgers is. Given the generation gap. A gap evidenced by the 39-year-old Rodgers hanging out with 22-year-old teammate Sauce Gardner, the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year for 2022.
“He was picking on me for being young,” Gardner said about their recent outing together for a Knicks playoff contest and a pregame meal. “We were getting seated, and he was like, ‘We’re about to sit by Jessica Alba.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know who that is.’ He looked at me like I’m crazy.”
It’s not crazy to think that this mindset from young Jets players makes it even more important for Rodgers to be around the team as much as possible so they get over their awe. Last year, new Packers (specifically, young receivers) would have benefited from having Rodgers around, in order to allow them to get comfortable with him.
That’s what Rodgers missed last year. Yes, he needs to get to know his new teammates. But they also need to get to know him. They need to not be freaked out around him. They need to get to the point at which they’re as comfortable with him as they are with any other teammate.
It’s also not crazy to think the 2022 Packers took a while to get going because young receivers like Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs weren’t sufficiently comfortable around Rodgers early in the season. In contrast, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes did everything he could to make his new teammates comfortable around him -- and look at how the season turned out in Kansas City.
It’s good that Rodgers is around for some of the offseason program. It would be better if he was there for all of it. It would be best if he gathered teammates somewhere else on their own time, in order to get to the point at which, come training camp, having him on the team is no big deal. A non-issue. No one is starstruck. No one is in awe. No one is thinking, “Wow, this is Aaron Rodgers.”
The sooner that happens, the sooner the Jets will be ready to run a gauntlet of tough games that will come fully into focus next week, when the schedule is announced.