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Aaron Rodgers Now Puttering Around Practice Fields Trying To Shock People

9:00 AM EST on November 30, 2023

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 24: Aaron Rodgers #8 of the New York Jets looks on from the sideline during the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on November 24, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images)
Perry Knotts/Getty Images

The Jets have opened Aaron Rodgers's 21-day practice window, which means that Aaron Rodgers has 21 days to come up with an excuse for why he won't play again this season.

Despite loudly insisting to anyone who would listen to him, which in 2023 mostly means just Pat McAfee, that he would return to the field this year after suffering a torn Achilles tendon in the season opener, Rodgers suffered a damn torn Achilles in the season opener. No NFL player has ever come back from one of those in less than five months, and it hasn't even been three. No sane doctor or training staff would clear him. But if you're rooting for Rodgers to beat the odds because of how funny it would be, shame on you.

Shame on you for thinking it'd be somehow "humorous" if Rodgers is cleared to start against the Commanders on Dec. 24, the first game after the 21-game practice window closes. You must be a low sort of person to get enjoyment out of a hypothetical scenario where the Jets win the toss and elect to receive, and on his very first play from scrimmage since his injury, Rodgers drops back to pass, and tears his Achilles again. Oh, you think that's funny? You think it's funny that a man's hubris could lead him to force his way back onto the field well before he's fully healed, and he tears the same tendon, as all common sense said he would? You think it's a laugh riot? That the tear is even worse this time? That his tendon snapped like a rubber band? You're sitting there having a giggle as Aaron Rodgers is writhing in pain on the turf, wondering if his career is over, and CBS's sad injury music starts playing, and then they smash cut to that commercial that goes "WHOPPER WHOPPER WHOPPER WHOPPER"?

You sicko, now you're probably thinking about whether it'd be even more funny, or slightly less funny but still very funny, if Rodgers returns and tears his other Achilles.

Though Rodgers seems intent on proving something to someone, or at least getting you to pay attention to him, the actual Jets decision-makers are transparent about the fact that letting Rodgers practice is part of his rehab, and not actually a step on the road to him returning this season. He's already been throwing to coaches—a torn Achilles tendon, being in the foot and whatnot, never really affected that ability; now he can throw to players. But only in individual drills and "drills on air," that is, routes run against no defense. “He’s been cleared for functional football activity,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “He’s not cleared to fully play football.”

Rodgers was officially "limited" in practice on Wednesday, a charming understatement of NFLese. According to one observer, "his footwork wasn't as aggressive as the other quarterbacks'." But he was out there! That's something. A miracle of modern medicine. Truly Aaron Rodgers is the poster boy for the efficacy of medical science.

Having received sufficient headlines, Rodgers is already laying the groundwork to not play. Earlier this week, he said his return would be dependent on the Jets still being in the playoff hunt. "Are we alive, are we in it, are we playing good enough to make a run?" he said. It's a convenient condition to apply to a team that is 4-7 and starting Tim Boyle by choice. I guarantee that at some point this offseason Rodgers declares he could have played, if only the Jets had been in playoff contention. But who knows? Maybe they do make a run. Maybe the Jets reel off three wins and on Christmas Eve, there's Aaron Rodgers under center, proving all the haters and doubters and people with medical degrees wrong.

So wouldn't it be a bummer if that happens and Rodgers immediately suffers some sort of other injury in Week 16 because he's favoring his left foot? Maybe shreds his knee to crabmeat? And they have to call out the cart for him for the second time this season? And Spero Dedes says, "You really hate to see that, Adam." I personally think it'd be a real shame if that happened. But you'd probably find it funny.

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