It was performance art.

This whole thing was a masterpiece. Rodgers would feud with Green Bay for multiple offseasons until they finally got sick of him. His public heel turn after the media found out about his vax status when it backfired on him and exposed his lie. He made a giant final stink in Green Bay, forced the issue on McAfee’s show by announcing his intention to play for the Jets before any deal was done. The hype. The whole darkness retreat thing, which felt performative on his part. The trade, the Jets being on Hard Knocks, him actually going to training camp and actually playing in a preseason game, his small pay cut, and then it all culminated in the most hyped Monday Night Football game I’ve seen in ages. There he goes, running the goddamn flag out onto the field on fucking 9/11, a tragedy that, let me remind you, he has interesting thoughts about, and 4 snaps into his majestic season his ass gets sacked and we all watch his Achilles tendon rupture in slow motion. We are then treated to Zach Wilson for 60 minutes and Josh Allen shitting himself.

Performance art. One of the most incredible story arcs I’ve ever seen. Scrappy QB underdog to anointed savior, to a genius level player, to snakebitten playoff failure, to weirdo celebrity kook, to culture war subject, to crazy old man, to savior of the Jets in his swan song, to finding a way to make us all feel bad for him as he threw down the curtains on his career in 4 snaps, 5 snaps if you count the tendon. I have to applaud. It’s a masterpiece. Aaron Rodgers is a storyteller. One of the greats. If this is the end, I’ll miss him.

His story now could go in a number of directions but there is a very distinct possibility that him running onto the field with the flag before the game is the last real image we ever get of Rodgers on a football field as a player. It’s almost sad to watch the footage now, as he runs the field, hands the flag off, and does a cool handshake with Sauce. We know this is moments before disaster now, but Rodgers in that footage does not. Sauce does not. His teammates and coaches do not. America does not. Instead of hype the footage becomes almost haunting, like the final clips at the end of a biopic movie where they show a character doing something happy before they run the title card that explains they died of cancer two weeks later.

An Achilles tear is no joke. It has a high probability of sidelining even promising young careers and derail stars for a time. Modern sports science has made great advancements but these things still cause careers to end. Rodgers is a couple of months from 40. Even if his contract with the Jets is for two seasons this might just be the end of it. I was genuinely interested to watch the Jets this season. I wanted to see how this idea worked out. I actually thought it would work. The Jets built a respectable roster these past two years except for QB, Getting a guy in there who is one of the greatest to ever play the position seemed like a better plan than, I dunno, trying out Jimmy Garoppolo. Worked for the Bucs two years ago. I guess the Jets forgot to build any of that respectable roster along the offensive line. Whelp.

Was I rooting for Rodgers to fail this year? Yeah, mostly because that would have been really funny after all the hype. What I definitely didn’t want was this. This sucks. We couldn’t even get one game from him before it was all over. I wanted to see what he could do. I wanted to see how he handled the NY media when shit got bad. I wanted to see how it would implode if it did. We were robbed of all of that. Now the Jets are in limbo, the same place they were last year, and I have to resort to hoping they sign Carson Wentz so I can start laughing again.

I’ve been thinking about Rodgers a lot these past few months and I don’t think I hate him. Sure I think he’s fucking kooky, but I don’t think he’s necessarily a bad person. Just a fool and stupid in some respects. He’s not Deshaun Watson, a man deserving of scorn and hate, he’s mostly just a weirdo you don’t agree with on many things but you don’t hate and don’t really want to talk to about anything beyond certain subjects. Like your co-worker who has crystals on their desk and says they can’t date anyone who is a Libra but is also generally fine and you can have a good conversation with them about food or music taste. The weird shit will creep into the conversation at times, but you just brush past it and swiftly keep the subject on track and everything’s fine or find a good bailout.

It’s his weirdness that makes him the perfect kind of character for the league that we will miss when he’s gone. Good at football, quirky and egotistical enough to mock, but not vile enough to truly loathe. An ideal heel that makes for a great boo. If I had a chance to hang out with any NFL QB for a night, I would seriously consider Aaron Rodgers as my pick. I think doing weird drugs with Rodgers and listening to him spout wild conspiracy shit would be an incredible roller coaster of an experience and I’d come out of that night with some impeccable stories. At the very least, he makes for great comic fodder and the new batch of QBs isn’t very interesting so I hope he can stick around for a bit for the sake of good material.