There are many reasons why the New York Jets were chosen as this year’s Hard Knocks team despite their initial opposition, but chief amongst them is perhaps new quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has been a notable on-field NFL figure since taking over from Brett Favre as the Packers’ starting quarterback ahead of the 2008 season, but he’s become an incredibly prominent off-field one in the last few years as well, sharing his opinions on everything from vaccines to media reports to darkness retreats. So it seems quite likely that Hard Knocks might have more focus on him than even what you’d typically see for a team’s new starting quarterback. And a preview clip from the HBO/NFL Films series shows that off, featuring a short speech Rodgers gave to his fellow Jets’ quarterbacks at one point in training camp after a coach asked him to:
— NFL (@NFL) July 31, 2023
“Oh, I’ve got nothing, man. I’m just happy to be out here. Excited to be with you guys. All I’m going to say is that this camp is a long camp, right? Let’s just enjoy the little things every single day. Take time to laugh a little bit. Find a conversation at lunchtime with somebody new, don’t always sit in the same little group. Get to know your teammates a little bit. That’s part of the leadership role. And just enjoy the little moments. It goes by fast, and then you get to be really old and gray, and savoring every little moment. So savor them right now, right? Qs on 3, 1-2-3 Qs!”
While Rodgers is undoubtedly quite aware of the cameras rolling here, these do feel like sincere comments from him. And it’s notable to hear him being reflective on “savoring every little moment.” It’s unclear how much longer the 39-year-old Rodgers will play for, but he has spoken about this team having “a good window” and “It’s not just a one-year thing where you can be competitive,” and he’s talked about how the Jets’ opportunity was exciting enough to him for him to take a $35 million pay cut (and reconfigure his contract for a more even 2023-2024 split).
And while Rodgers has still recently been combative with critics, both football and otherwise, he does seem to be having fun with the Jets and savoring those moments. And, at least in this clip, he seems okay with being on Hard Knocks, despite his previous protests there. It will be interesting to see the series’ overall take on Rodgers, and to see just how much access they get to him, but this clip certainly provides something to support the claims that he’s “going to be freaking great” on the show.
Hard Knocks premieres on HBO and Max at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Tuesday, Aug. 8.
[NFL on Twitter]