FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers believes he’s where he needs to be. And the New York Jets’ new quarterback thinks they can do big things together.
The four-time NFL MVP was introduced by the team Wednesday to much fanfare in the team’s auditorium, filled with media, coaches and team staffers — flanked on the stage by coach Robert Saleh to his left and general manager Joe Douglas on his right.
“This is a surreal day for me,” the 39-year-old Rodgers said.
Rodgers is well aware of the Jets’ playoff drought, which at 12 seasons is the longest active skid in the NFL. He’s also aware of the team not making a Super Bowl appearance since Joe Namath led them there in 1969.
“That Super Bowl III trophy is looking a little lonely,” Rodgers said.
The team officially announced the trade for Rodgers moments before he entered the auditorium, where highlights of his career in Green Bay played on a video screen shortly before he walked in.
The Jets received Rodgers, the No. 15 overall pick and a fifth-rounder this year from the Packers. In exchange, Green Bay got the 13th overall selection, a second-rounder, a sixth-rounder and a conditional 2024 second-round pick that could become a first-rounder if Rodgers plays 65% of New York’s plays this season.
“I’m not here to be a savior of any kind,” Rodgers insisted.
Rodgers spent his first 18 seasons in Green Bay, helping the Packers win one Super Bowl while establishing himself as one of the game’s greatest quarterbacks.
“That chapter is over now and I’m excited about the new adventure here in New York,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said he chose the Jets because he believes in the direction the franchise is heading with a young core of players that includes Offensive Rookie of the Year in Garrett Wilson and Defensive Rookie of the Year in Sauce Gardner.
“I’m an old guy, so I want to be at a place that can win it all and I believe we can do that here,” he said.
When the rumors began about where Rodgers might play next, Namath offered to let him wear his retired No. 12 — Rodgers’ number in Green Bay — if he joined the Jets. Instead, Rodgers said “to me, (No.) 12 is Broadway Joe” and he will wear the No. 8 from his college days at Cal.
Rodgers wouldn’t commit to playing beyond this season, saying he’s focused on this upcoming year and staying in the area “for the foreseeable future” to work out with the team and get to know his new teammates. Speaking with reporters after the news conference, Rodgers was a bit more expansive on his future.
“This isn’t a one and done in my mind,” the quarterback said, acknowledging that the Jets gave up a lot in the trade to acquire him.
Rodgers spent a few days in February contemplating his life and playing future during an isolation retreat in Oregon — while fans and reporters speculated about what he would decide. He emerged and deliberated some more before deciding on March 10 he intended to play again — and for the Jets. Rodgers made his intentions official during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” on YouTube and Sirius XM on March 15.
“It was the Jets, and only the Jets for me,” Rodgers said after the introductory news conference.
Rodgers arrived at the facility Wednesday morning wearing sunglasses and a black Jets hoodie. He was greeted one by one by owner Woody Johnson, vice chairman Christopher Johnson, Saleh — who gave the quarterback a loud high-five and hug — team president Hymie Elhai, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and Douglas.
He spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon preparing for his Big Apple intro.
“This is a happy day,” Woody Johnson said.