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Aaron Rodgers Suspends His Purely Hypothetical Achilles Injury Comeback Tour

11:26 AM EST on December 20, 2023

Aaron Rodgers stands on the sideline
Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers won't be providing any more medical updates this calendar year unless they're to Jeopardy! executive producer Michael Davies, just in case Ken Jennings needs a new Mayim Bialik. The New York Jets quarterback announced that his quixotic, perhaps imagined, and mostly noxious work keeping us apprised of his once-useless leg is finally over, now that he has confided full show-biz style to Pat McAfee that he does not intend to test his vibranium ankle for a team that cannot reach the playoffs. Now he'll have the extra nine months it takes to fully steel himself for the arduous task of replacing Zach Wilson (again), Tim Boyle, Trevor Siemian, Brett Rypien and the ghost of Chad Pennington.

"If I was 100 percent today, I'd be definitely pushing to play," Rodgers told a perpetually beet-red McAfee on Tuesday. "But the fact is, I'm not."

To be honest, the Jets actually made their world worse by signing Rodgers this past offseason because it brought the one thing the Jets need least: attention. Rodgers was coming to save the Jets, then he was coming to embolden the Jets, then he got hurt but he would heal so fast that he would put the Jets on the cutting edge of science and ultimately through the might of personal player empowerment make them matter in a world that long ago thought they were as relevant as the Frankford Yellow Jackets.

Rodgers was using his injury as a vehicle to get people to notice him, and the national media was willing to play along for fear of becoming one of his doubters, as if it were humanly possible to return from an Achilles tear within four months. He was, in essence, promoting a spectacular magic trick, except in this case the magician never even stepped on the stage.

It was fine not having to pay attention to the Jets, because they made it so easy. Every team in North American pro sports has participated in its league playoffs at least once since the Jets last did it, and since that game in January 2011, they have the third-worst winning percentage of any team in any sport on the continent. Yet the trade for Rodgers made us listen to him talk in glowing terms about his magical body that would allow him to return in half the time for his injury. And he kept talking about it to anyone who would entertain the notion, not because he believed he was immune to normal healing, but because he wanted the public to watch him say it, over and over again, without giving a moment's thought for the collateral damage of watching the Jets to imagine them with him instead of punter Thomas Morstead, who still has the team's highest passer rating. There he was, week after week, chiding everyone for being right about him, his ankle, and the stupid team he is trying to annex as his final ottoman before moving to the deep woods and declaring himself the first King Of The State Of Jefferson, Ayahuascatron I.

Rodgers kept the scam going as long as he could; it was clearly a source of amusement for him, and the blinking railroad warning light that is McAfee. He knew he couldn't carry it off, but he was willing to wait for his escape hatch to avoid the mockery he so richly deserved. Frankly, he deserved to play one ultra-meaningless game at the end of this Jets season, just to relearn what he subjected us to. It's not like Rodgers in a mobility scooter would have been significantly worse than Boyle or Siemian.

Instead Rodgers skated away, declaring victory without ever having had to achieve it. By that definition, he has won seven Super Bowls. He is Sam Bankman-Fried without the convictions, and he'll try the same thing next season, not because needs one more year of stats to go to the Hall of Fame, or because he can make this team a champion, or even for the money—although $75 million to put your feet up on Woody Johnson's head is nice work if you can get it—but because he liked being the primary source of attention and captivation for this rancid organization. And really, which NFL team is more accustomed to this false sense of hope than the Jets?

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