Howard, Gary, and Retired N.F.L.-er Jack Mewhort Weigh in on the Season-Ending Aaron Rodgers Injury

“It all happened so fast you couldn’t believe it,” executive producer Gary Dell’Abate says of the play that ended the star New York Jets quarterback’s season

September 12, 2023

The New York Jets won their season-opening game last night, but for diehard fans like Gary Dell’Abate there was no cause for celebration. That’s because the football team’s brand-new acquisition, legendary quarterback Aaron Rodgers, incurred a brutal injury on the very first drive and will probably miss the remainder of the season. Within minutes of the opening kickoff, Aaron tore his Achilles tendon and the Jets went from possible Super Bowl contenders to a team unsure of its future.

“I’m telling you Howard, the excitement for last night was off the hook,” Gary said Tuesday morning. “And it all happened so fast. You couldn’t believe it.”

As the Stern Show’s executive producer explained, the Jets haven’t been to the playoffs in 12 years, one of the longest droughts in professional sports. Fans had reason to hope after the team signed 39-year-old future Hall of Famers Aaron Rodgers to a $112.5 million, three-year contract (with $75 million of it guaranteed), but now the Jets fate rest once again in the hands of q.b. Zach Wilson, who struggled mightily on the field last season.

“They won’t win the Super Bowl with Zach Wilson. He just doesn’t have the tools,” a dismayed Gary added. “We’re 1 and 0. We’re tied for first place. [Just] end the season now.”

Howard was blown away to learn Rodgers would earn $75 million over the next few years, regardless of whether he ever suits up again. “I think if it wasn’t guaranteed money he wouldn’t be that injured. I truly believe that. It’s a psychological thing,” Howard suggested, though he was quick to add that he believed all N.F.L. players should be paid well, especially those who aren’t superstars that quickly get chewed up and spit out by a most violent league.

“The sport is basically just ‘take a guy and have him dance in the middle of the freeway and hope he doesn’t get run over by a car,’” Howard said before fielding a call from former N.F.L. player Jack Mewhort, who echoed similar sentiments.

“I played for four years in the N.F.L., had a bunch of knee surgeries, got pretty well mangled, tore triceps, tendon, all sorts of ankle sprains and things like that,” the retired offensive lineman said, explaining that even though he enjoyed a longer-than-most playing career he still had to find a normal day job afterward. “I’m sitting in a parking garage right now, ready to go into a meeting to start selling title insurance,” Jack said.

While Rodgers might earn enough money to buy his own football team one day, Jack said it isn’t like that for most pros. “People see those advertised figures, and it’s just not the case,” he said. “Most guys — not the Aaron Rodgers and the star quarterbacks of the world – they gotta go out afterward and pick up the pieces and figure out who [they] are after the game.”

Howard imagined retiring from a sport you loved after only four years must be challenging.

“When you get beat up like that, and [your career] gets taken away, it’s a strange feeling,” Jack agreed. “All I wanted to do my whole life was play in the N.F.L., and you get to live that dream, and then all of a sudden it’s done.”