It’s no secret that the New York Jets ownership group brought in future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers with hopes of him being the final piece in the puzzle of becoming a Super Bowl contender.
Anyone doubting Rodgers’ intentions got corrected during one of the opening scenes of HBO’s Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the New York Jets.
The four-time National Football League MVP looked at the Jets Super Bowl III trophy and said he wanted to add to the lone World Championship for the franchise.
Rodgers’ statement wasn’t quite a guarantee on the level of Joe Namath, who famously told reporters that the American Football League upstart Jets would defeat the favored Baltimore Colts led by Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas from the NFL.
The Jets were a 19.5-point underdog when Namath guaranteed victory. Namath was the MVP in a 16-7 upset win. The third AFL-NFL championship game was played by the Jets and Colts on January 12, 1969, and the Jets haven’t been back since then.
Rodgers wants to change that infamous stat.
Rodgers Shows Softer Side
After spending nearly two decades with the Green Bay Packers, the five-episode series showed several moments of Rodgers adjusting to life with a new team.
Rodgers’s reunion with former Packers teammates, wide receivers Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard, revealed how vital loyalty and familiarity are to the quarterback. His playful joshing with Carolina Panthers offensive line coach James Campen during a joint practice with the Panthers and Jets showed his empathy.
Campen was the Packers coach offensive line coach from 2004-18, and the pair were part of the 2011 Packers Super Bowl win. Rodgers uses some salty language and teases Campen but shows concern when reminding Campen to maintain a healthy diet.
Did Aaron Rodgers see a UFO?
Is anyone surprised that Rodgers has theories about life in outer space? At one point in the show, he recalled a story about how he believed he encountered a UFO. Rodgers’ describes flashing lights and loud noises he once witnessed after dinner with a former college teammate from UC Berkeley.
Rodgers didn’t take kindly to New York Giants linebacker Jihad Ward’s push after he threw a pass in the Jets final preseason game, admonishing him for the forearm nudge.
On an ensuing play, he threw a touchdown to receiver Garrett Wilson. It’s the type of pass that makes Rodgers one of the best to play the position. He also used it to remind Ward not to poke the bear.
Rodgers dropped a line about his need for more familiarity with the veteran linebacker heading into his eighth NFL season: “I don’t know who you are, bro,” Rodgers said.
Making the team
The Jets and NFL Films could have gone more in-depth, showing players getting cut from the roster as the series did in other seasons. There was the sad moment when defensive lineman and fan favorite Tanzel Smart was cut from the 53-man roster, but redemption came for Smart when he made the Jets practice squad.
Smart made viewers laugh in an earlier episode when he said to defensive end and theater lover Solomon Thomas: “I want to go to a Broadway show. I want to eat a car-coochie board.”
Thomas mispronouncing charcuterie ended up being an endearing moment for a journeyman football player trying to find a home with the Jets. His story had a happy ending of him getting on the practice squad with the possibility of more to come as the season unfolds.
While there weren’t as many devastating moments of guys seeing their NFL dreams die on camera, one of the more endearing story arcs happened when receivers Jason Brownlee and Xavier Gipson found out they made the roster from Jets head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas.
Brownlee and Gipson were in the group of the 259 players selected at the 2023 NFL Draft. The pair became friends during the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl leading up to the draft. They both signed as undrafted free agents with the Jets.
Imagine going from an uncertain football career after the draft to catching passes from Rodgers in practice and making the team.
The Jets open their season on Monday Night Football with a game against AFC East rival Buffalo Bills.