Aaron Rodgers was "90/10" towards retirement before darkness retreat, but 'something changed when I came out'


“When I came out of the darkness, something changed.”

With those nine words, Aaron Rodgers began the admission that Jets fans have been waiting for since he did indeed leave his darkness retreat weeks ago: he wants to play in 2023, and he wants to play in New York.

Although, as it turns out, that was almost NOT the case, as he told Pat McAfee that he was “about 90/10” on retiring before he went into his retreat.

“It was a great reset for me and my body and mind, but by the fourth day, I was ready to come out,” Rodgers said. “Where I was at mentally, it was like this would be a nice transition into the next phase of my life. Get through the Super Bowl, go through the darkness, go into retirement – we didn’t do the first part, so it was a lot of frustration, and it just allowed me to contemplate retirement or not.”

Rodgers then went on to lay out the entire timeline of his thoughts since 2020, when the Packers drafted Jordan Love as his heir apparent, noting that the Packers “drafted a guy to replace me” because “they like to get rid of players a year too early than a year too late, and some may have thought I was a declining player.”

Rodgers was drafted while Brett Favre was still the Packers’ starting QB, so that’s almost full-circle for him, but by 2020, the entire front office had changed, and he went on to win back-to-back NFL MVP Awards.

Then came the struggles of 2022, and a long look around Lambeau after a season-ending loss to Detroit, and a conversation that seemed to be three years in the making.

“This conversation would have happened a lot sooner had I not won back-to-back MVPs, but at the end of last season, I was interested in where they would be at mentally,” Rodgers said. “Everything that I was told, in the week I was in Green Bay, was take as long as you want, because we want you to retire a Packer, and if you want to come back and play, the door is open.”

And that’s when those nine words began the news Jets fans have been waiting on for weeks.

“When I came out of the darkness, something changed, and I’m not exactly what,” Rodgers said. “When I got back to my phone after five days, I had hundreds of texts and emails and realized there had been a shift – I heard from multiple people I trust around the league that there was some shopping going on, and they were looking to move me.”

That’s when Rodgers told McAfee he was “90 percent towards retiring and 10 towards playing” when he went into the retreat, as he thought that was best for him – but two days of the

“One day I spent entirely on each reality, and sat with that for hours and hours, and when I came out, I was interested in where the landscape was, and what the options were if I wanted to play,” Rodgers said. “It was clear to me at that point that while the Packers were willing to say the right thing publicly, they really wanted to move on. I’m not sure why, and I won’t sit here as a victim, but I think I wish that had been the conversation in the beginning of the offseason.”

According to Rodgers, had the Pack just been honest with him right away that it was time to move on, he would’ve thanked them and weighed his options, and it would’ve been “totally fine” and understood because “it’s a tough business.”

“I shifted my focus to entertaining what playing would look like, and the Packers allowed the Jets to come out for a nice visit, and I told them I wasn’t ready to make a decision yet, because I wanted to really hit my workouts hard for a week and see if the drive was still there,” Rodgers said. “The decision I think was made in my mind on that Tuesday that I wanted to play, and it was then about my body.”

And then, the magnum opus:

“I think since Friday I’ve made it clear my intention was to play, and my intention was to play for the New York Jets,” he said. “I had to step back and look at the whole picture, and I have so much love and gratitude for Green Bay and the Packers fans, but the Packers let me know in so many words that they were ready to move on. And, because I have a fire and still want to play and play in New York, it’s just a matter of terms.”

The new NFL league year doesn’t officially open until 4 p.m.
Wednesday, so nothing can be “official” before then, but the watch is unofficially on once again in a different light: it’s a matter of when, not if.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN

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