When Aaron Rodgers stepped on the field for the New York Jets on Monday, Sept. 11, the feeling for the Gang Green faithful was the most hopeful it has been in decades. With a top defense and four-time MVP award winner Aaron Rodgers at the helm, it looked like this would finally be the year the Jets could end their 54-year Super Bowl drought.
It was gametime at 8:20 p.m. on the gloomy Monday night in East Rutherford, NJ. Following a seven-nine season in 2022, and a really rough patch of games to close out the year, the boys in green looked poised to have a magical season. After the Jets defensive unit did their work in NJ’s Metlife Stadium, which is known as a dreadful field to play on due to the large number of players injured on the turf, the Bills punted on five plays in. Then the Jets took over for their first drive of the season. The most anticipated Jets team in years was about to kick off their year with the biggest acquisition in team history, leading their offense. It might have taken some deep pockets, but the Jets had their man, and nothing was going to stop them in 2023.
Four plays in, everything had gone off the rails. Defensive lineman for the Bills, Leonard Floyd, sacked Aaron Rodgers. As Rodgers went down, and felt the force of the 6’5” 240lb, eighth-year man out of Georgia, his achilles completely tore. “Tears typically occur when the tendon stretches while also contracting, referred to an eccentric contraction. Looking at the video [of the play], Rodgers’ calf was stretched while he was trying to push off,” says NYU Langone Health surgeon, Spencer Stein. Rodgers’ career injury history consists mainly of a shoulder fracture in 2013, and a grade 2 MCL sprain, suffered in week one of 2018, but nothing with this magnitude.
The show must go on, though, for the New York Jets in the 2023 season.
Former 2nd overall draft pick, Zach Wilson, took over at QB for play five and what looked like the rest of the season. Cornerback Sauce Gardner stated, “It knocked us off guard. But we dedicated winning the game to him.” And there would be a light at the end of the tunnel for the Jets on that soon-notorious Monday night, when the Bills drive to start overtime stalled at their own 25 yard-line. With 9:02 minutes left in the overtime period, undrafted rookie free-agent Xavier Gipson shook up Metlife Stadium with a 65-yard punt-return touchdown. Just for a minute, hope had re-entered the hearts of every Jets fan in East Rutherford, or watching at home. It was exactly five years and a day since the Jets had claimed victory in a season-opener. But this one might just be overshadowed by the dramatic and unfathomable event that took place about three hours prior.