NFL superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers was dejected on Tuesday after learning he had suffered a season-ending torn left Achilles tendon, New York Jets coach Robert Saleh said Tuesday.
An MRI exam Tuesday morning showed the 39-year-old, four-time NFL Most Valuable Player suffered a complete tendon tear when he was sacked by Buffalo's Leonard Floyd only four plays into his Jets debut, which New York won 22-16 over the visiting Bills in the season opener for both.
"He's down," Saleh said in a news conference. "With everything he has invested and it lasting four plays, you can imagine it's disappointing."
With Rodgers turning 40 in December, there was concern that one of the most prolific passers in NFL history might have played his final contest.
"I did not get into the future of what he's expecting. I'll let him get into those questions," Saleh said. "We'll try to let him breathe and give him some time to process everything."
Rodgers, who spent 18 seasons with the Green Bay Packers before being traded to the Jets in April, went down awkwardly about four minutes into the game and was helped off the field with what was then called a left ankle injury, the iconic signal caller limping into the locker room with a walking boot on his left foot.
"I feel more for Aaron that anyone. He has invested so much in this organization, into this journey he has embarked on," Saleh said.
"It's really all about him. Guys are excited to step up and continue what we have been building but there's a lot of hurting for Aaron."
Rodgers attempting to make the Jets a contender and build a legacy away from Green Bay had become the biggest story of the NFL off-season.
The Jets obtained Rodgers because they saw a top quarterback as the key missing piece to contending for a title.
Instead, the Jets will be led by Zach Wilson, who struggled to an 8-14 mark in two seasons before being replaced by Rodgers.
"Zach has proven to be a very capable quarterback," Saleh said. "We have all the faith in the world in Zach."
Reserve quarterback Tim Boyle will be elevated from the practice squad to work behind Wilson, who steps into a huge challenge.
The Jets next play Sunday at Dallas against a Cowboys' squad that opened by beating the New York Giants 40-0, then play host to New England and reigning champion Kansas City the following two weeks.
Oddsmakers at Ceasars Sportsbook dropped the Jets' chances of winning the Super Bowl from 16-1 to 35-1 and other betting services made similar moves.
"I don't know why people are trying to put an obituary under our team name," Saleh said. "There are 52 other guys in the locker room... who believe we can do a hell of a lot of good things."
Rodgers' injury was more heartbreak for long-suffering Jets supporters.
The team won its only Super Bowl in 1969 and owns the longest playoff drought in major North American sports, last making a post-season appearance in 2010.
It was not the first time the Jets lost a top quarterback in the opener of a much-anticipated campaign.
In 1999, a year after the Jets were one win shy of the Super Bowl, they saw Vinny Testaverde exit the opener with a season-ending Achilles tendon rupture. They went 8-8.
The Jets website has a video series named "One Jets Drive" after the club's mailing address, but it also summed up Rodgers' entire season.
Green Bay is owed a second-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft for the Rodgers deal. It would have been a first rounder had Rodgers played in 65% of New York's snaps this season.
- Brady to the rescue? -
As the Jets pondered trades or free agents, commentators and fans suggested contacting 46-year-old Tom Brady, the NFL's all-time leader in completions, pass yardage and touchdown throws.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion ended a 40-day retirement last year to play for Tampa Bay before retiring "for good" in February.
Brady posted a video clip of himself playing basketball Tuesday saying he was "in the lab" and "trying to keep up with the kids these days."