Aaron Rodgers during postgame press conference

Aaron Rodgers has spent 15 seasons in the white-hot spotlight of America’s most popular sport. In a league where the players are largely disposable and many aren’t immediately recognizable, Rodgers has a face almost everyone knows. He has been a Jeopardy! host, been featured in national commercials, and dated starlets Olivia Munn, Danica Patrick, and Shailene Woodley.

Rodgers may not necessarily crave attention, but he certainly doesn’t mind it. So, it’s laughable to suggest that one of the greatest quarterbacks of his generation would somehow wilt under the tabloid scrutiny of the big, bad New York media. According to multiple reports, Rodgers is huddling with the New York Jets after seeking permission to speak with them from his current employer, the Green Bay Packers.

For months there has been speculation that Rodgers could bolt the only franchise he has ever played for. Those rumors gained steam in late January when the Jets hired Nathaniel Hackett, Rodgers’ offensive coordinator with the Packers from 2019 to 2021. The Jets trading for the four-time MVP seems like a move that could work for all parties involved. However, some have doubts for a ridiculous reason. 

Last month, WFAN host and former NFL running back Tiki Barber described Rodgers as too sensitive and said: “He is going to struggle in New York and I don’t know if it’s the right fit for him.” This narrative has been parroted by others, but that’s antiquated thinking. Sure there are several broadcasting, publishing, and online outlets in the Greater NYC area, and the competition for news is fierce. But when you’re a sports celebrity like Rodgers, you have been dealing with scrutiny your entire career.

Green Bay is tiny, but the Packers are a national team. They have been that way for generations and Rodgers has continued that run. Every major media figure who covers the NFL has probably visited Wisconsin. In the modern media age, for someone of Rodgers’ stature, it doesn’t matter if you play quarterback in Smallville USA, or Metropolis. Rodgers is essentially his own economy and his own business. Relocating from Green Bay to NYC doesn’t bring any more pressure or attention than what he has already experienced. 

We’ve been hyper-examining Rodgers’ dating habits, his estranged family situation, and his questionable views on conventional medicine for several years. How is that going to be any different simply because of a change of address? 

The ferocity of the NYC media is overblown. It’s a reputation that has its roots in a bygone era that predates the internet and the instant information age. There is harsh criticism everywhere and because of social media, you don’t have to be in the vicinity of a major city to be on the receiving end of it. If you don’t think Rodgers has been through a media meat-grinder, you haven’t been paying attention.

Few star athletes have invited more criticism over odd choices than Rodgers. Perhaps only Kyrie Irving comes close. The tipping point was when Rodgers was purposefully deceitful about his vaccination status. That revelation made national non-sports news. Since then, Rodgers’ reputation hasn’t been quite the same. And his constant need to stay in the spotlight has turned some off.

Rodgers seems to think of himself as high-minded and resilient. Say what you want about his opinions but he’s not someone who is going to be bullied by the New York media. He’ll handle it by doing what he has done his entire career—by playing exceptionally well. Even in a down year, he posted a higher passer rating than Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson, and Dak Prescott.

The Jets have a young, talented team that is a competent quarterback away from being in the playoffs. Adding Rodgers might be enough to make them an AFC contender. He’s that good, even at the age of 39. Rodgers’ biggest concern isn’t the media. It’s whether he can still physically play at an MVP level. But with the Jets’ defense (18.6 points per game allowed), he might not have to.

Rodgers could be successful in a new home. But if he fails, it will have nothing to do with the New York media. To suggest otherwise is silly.

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant, Anthony Grant, Amy Grant or Hugh Grant.