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Aaron Rodgers excited to be 'part of the history' of storied Jets franchise, thinks New York can 'win it all'

If Monday was news day and Tuesday was for processing reality, Wednesday served as a coronation for Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets.

The tone was undoubtedly celebratory at Rodgers' introductory news conference. After an agonizing wait, Rodgers is officially, finally a Jet, and owner Woody Johnson couldn't have been happier to welcome the future Hall of Famer to his franchise, saying "we are delighted and couldn't be happier to have him as a New York Jet."

Rodgers wasn't hesitant when asked why he'd choose the Jets as his next destination following 18 seasons spent in Green Bay: He sees New York as a place where he can win immediately.

"They smoked us last year, so I knew they had a good team," Rodgers explained to reporters on Wednesday. "We got to practice against them a couple years ago, and I got to know (Jets coach) Robert (Saleh) a little bit more. I've always loved what he's all about. We played him in San Fran a few times, mostly they got the best of us. But I liked the way that he was leading, his coaching style. A big reason I'm here, I got to mention, is (Jets offensive coordinator) Nathaniel Hackett. Hackett and I became really close friends for three years in Green Bay. I love him like a brother, and I believe in him. I'm really happy to be back working with him again.

"Obviously, (Jets general manager) Joe (Douglas) has got a great track record so far of drafting some incredible players. But it takes a system, and obviously Robert has the right sauce, so I'm excited about getting to work with him and Brick (defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich) and (defensive backs coach) Marquand (Manuel), former teammate of mine. It's a great staff.

"I'm an old guy, so I want to be part of a team that can win it all, and I believe that this is a place that we can get that done."

Rodgers added during an interview with NFL Network's Judy Battista: "Every year there's a handful of teams I think can do that. Usually kind of eight to 12 from the beginning of the season, we feel like these teams can actually do it, and I feel like we're one of those teams. So that's an exciting thing to be a part of. No older player wants to be part of a rebuild or a team that really can't compete."

Immediacy is important, too, especially for a quarterback who has flirted with retirement in each of the last two offseasons. New York gave up a number of picks for Rodgers -- including a conditional 2024 second-rounder that will become a first if Rodgers plays 65 percent of snaps this season -- and swapped first-rounders in this week's draft to acquire the quarterback, emphatically pushing the gas pedal to the floor on this season. And if Rodgers crosses that percentage of snaps -- a fully expected result if the Jets hope to capitalize on their potential in 2023 -- they'll have sacrificed their top pick in order to win now.

If Rodgers plays just one season, the price will have been high.

"Right now, I'm just gonna focus on this season," Rodgers said. "I'm excited about being here, expect to be here for the duration of the offseason, and I'm excited to get to know my new teammates and the coaching staff and the organization. Obviously, I have a background with that offense with coach Hackett, but I'm excited about just diving in and being a part of this group and getting to know some of the names of my teammates. And also, I'm excited about working with all you guys. I've heard a lot about the New York media. Excited to see what that's all about."

But if Rodgers leads them to the gleam of the Lombardi Trophy, it will have been worth it.

"Well, I mean, I don't really know about the historical standing in the sport, I think more from this organization's standpoint, this could be really special," Rodgers said. "There's some iconic names who have played here, probably none more iconic than No. 12, and I heard what he said about unretiring his number, but to me, 12 is Broadway Joe (Namath), and I didn't even want to go down that path, and I'm excited about going back to my college number.

"But there's something special about playing in a city, for a team like this, with a storied franchise, and obviously we're going way, way back to Super Bowl III. To be a part of something special would definitely help you go down in the history of the organization. I already have 18 years in an incredibly iconic organization, and it'd be fun to be a part of the history of this one as well."

Rodgers' Wednesday trip to Florham Park, New Jersey, made his move to the Jets real. From the moment he announced his intent to play for New York to now, it felt like an eternity, with countless external individuals speculating on what it might take to get the deal done, and Rodgers left only to wait to join his chosen squad.

Despite the agonizing delay, Rodgers was never worried it wouldn't happen.

"Not really. I believed it was gonna happen the entire time," Rodgers said. "Just a matter of, I think, waiting each other out. My intention coming out of the darkness was to pursue this opportunity. And I enjoyed the meeting with, you know, Woody and Christopher came out, these two guys, Hack, and I just got a great feel with all those guys about the possibility. And as I leaned into it, getting back into some more strenuous workouts, I just really believed this was where I was supposed to be.

"A lot of things had to come together. I believe there was some major synchronization to make this happen, but I'm excited about the opportunity here. I always believed this was possible. Things moved pretty quickly on Monday, and thankfully I'm here now."

That process is mercifully complete. Now, it's about getting to work.

Rodgers would attract attention no matter which city he chose to move to in this next step in his career. He just so happened to join a team located in a metropolis with a media presence that is notorious for being critical, and constantly demands attention from the rest of the nation.

He won't have to work hard for eyeballs. He's not in Green Bay anymore. He will, however, need to win to keep New York off his back -- and himself in their good graces.

"I want to thank Woody and Christopher for bringing me here. Obviously coach Saleh, Joe Douglas, my agent Dave Dunn. This is a surreal day for me after spending 18 years in the same city," Rodgers said. "There's been a lot of introductions today and meeting a lot of people, but there's a lot of excitement. I'm here because I believe in this team. I believe in coach Saleh. I believe in the direction of Joe Douglas. Obviously he's drafted really well the last couple years -- Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year. But big thanks to the Jets organization.

"Obviously a big thanks to the Packers organization for an incredible run. That chapter is over now. And I'm excited about the new adventure here in New York."

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