Aaron Rodgers’ time with the Green Bay Packers came to an end when he was traded to the New York Jets after months of speculation.
Shortly before Rodgers officially became a member of Gang Green, Allen Lazard signed with the Jets in March. Lazard spent five years with Rodgers in Green Bay. On Thursday, Lazard and Rodgers were back working together on a football practice football field at the Jets training facility.
This week marked the next step in a new chapter of Rodgers’ storied football career, and Rodgers was well aware of how “different” this year’s training camp is for him.
“Everything is different,” Rodgers said. “Nineteen years in, there’s been a lot of training camps — all of them at 1265 Lombardi. Showing up at 1 Jets Drive was a little different.”
Rodgers spent his first 18 NFL seasons in with the Packers, winning a Super Bowl and four league MVP awards along the way.
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Now, he is playing for a franchise that has made it to the NFL’s biggest game just once, and that was back when Joe Namath led the Jets to a stunning win over the Baltimore Colts in 1969.
Rodgers recognizes the extra attention now placed on a team that has not qualified for the postseason in 12 years. After his first training camp practice with the Jets, he is pacing himself amid all the hype.
“Yeah, it’s spectacular,” Rodgers said. “I mean, that’s what you want. You want to be a part of a place that has high expectations. And there’s a lot of positivity around here, which I think is a good thing.”
Rodgers said when he joined the Jets, he came to New York to win and finally give that “lonely” — as he described it — Super Bowl trophy a companion. His teammates have followed suit, with several saying that’s the goal every year, and they should not be afraid to let everyone know it.
“I’m not going to beat around the bush, man: We want to win the Super Bowl,” wide receiver Garrett Wilson said. “You don’t make the moves like we did unless you want to get there. You know that’s the mindset.”
Rodgers has certainly experienced his fair share of ups and downs throughout his lengthy career. He stressed the importance of taking a patient approach for the early portions of training camp.
“I feel like I’ve grown a lot over the years,” Rodgers said. “I think it’s always important to have patience in shorts and helmets, so patience the first few days of camp. Sometimes the patience can wear thin if it’s repeat mistakes, but we’re just building this thing right now. We want to build the right way.
“And, yeah, I would say maybe earlier in my career, I was a little more easily angered, and I feel like I’m a little less triggered as I’ve gotten older.”
Rodgers also seems to have taken on a new role since he joined the — being an on the field teacher for his teammates.
“He’s a coach that can still play football,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said.
Lazard has also taken notice of how differently the veteran signal caller is going about things in New York, as he builds a rapport with new teammates.
“He’s taking his time,” Lazard said. “I’m seeing it. I’m seeing how much he cares for those guys and how much he really just wants to put the icing on the cake as far as his career.”
Even before Rodgers joined the Jets, his potential retirement became a topic of conversation. When his trade to the Jets became official, many still wondered if he would call is quits after only one season in New York.
However, Rodgers recently hinted that intends to play beyond the 2023 season.
“I love being around the young energy, that excitement,” Rodgers said. “There’s a great feel to this team of guys who are young and super talented on their first contract. … When you have so many great players on rookie deals, it’s pretty exciting knowing you can do something, you’ve got a good window.
“You know it’s not just a one-year thing where you can be competitive, which is fun.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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