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Aaron Rogers' first game of the NFL's regular season may also be his last

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

One of the NFL's biggest stars tore his Achilles tendon very early in Monday night's game. It was quarterback Aaron Rodgers' first regular-season appearance with the New York Jets just months after joining the team, and now it seems his season and maybe his professional football career may be over. For more, we're joined now by Jesse Washington of ESPN's Andscape.

Jesse, Aaron Rodgers, future Hall of Famer - HBO's "Hard Knocks" got Jets Nation all hyped up - his season now done. What was your reaction to the injury?

JESSE WASHINGTON: Man, first thing was Jay-Z's line - grand opening, grand closing.

MARTÍNEZ: (Laughter).

WASHINGTON: But then I felt a little bad because nobody wants anybody to get injured.

MARTÍNEZ: No.

WASHINGTON: And I wanted to see him play. I was excited. But by the time I tuned into the Jets game on Monday night, he was already out for the season - so pretty disappointing.

MARTÍNEZ: And it's hard for a 29-year-old to get over an Achilles tendon. Rodgers is 39. I mean, what does this mean for this career?

WASHINGTON: Man, we do not know, and it's pretty scary. You know, my Achilles hurts right now, and all I did was play some pickup basketball on Saturday. So it's a tremendously difficult injury to overcome at that age. But he's a top-level athlete. He's overcome a lot of other obstacles. He's got the best treatment available in the world. And so my bet is that he will probably be back on the field in green next season.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, I can kind of see that because, you know, so much was made over his departure from Green Bay to the New York Jets, and he never got to really fulfill any of the promise. So yeah, I can see, Jesse, how he'd want to at least play one season for them.

WASHINGTON: I mean, this was one of, if not the dominant storylines in the NFL this season. And the NFL and all professional sports are about storylines and narratives and these grand, sweeping things that we're going to follow over the course of a year - in this case, maybe two. The other thing is that he's a competitor, man. You don't get to be a four-time MVP. You don't get to be a Super Bowl champion without really believing in yourself and overcoming long odds. You don't want to go out four minutes into your storied move to a new franchise...

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah.

WASHINGTON: ...In the biggest city in the world, so I don't think Aaron Rodgers is going out like that.

MARTÍNEZ: But since we're talking sports, we can speculate. If this indeed is the end, what's his legacy?

WASHINGTON: Hmm. His legacy will be as a great quarterback who was a little weird, you know? This is a guy who says he's not an anti-vaxxer, but didn't get vaccinated and has repeated some scientific untruths, shall we say. This is a guy who came out as an appreciator and a user of ayahuasca, the hallucinogenic drug. And so there are some people who want to point at Aaron Rodgers and say, OK, ha ha, or make jokes about him getting injured in relation to these other stranger parts of his personality, but I think that we should really be careful with that, you know? Nobody wants to root for anybody to get injured. And also, recently, in the Women's World Cup, Megan Rapinoe was targeted after missing a penalty kick, and there were people on certain parts of the political spectrum...

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah.

WASHINGTON: ...Who pointed a finger. We don't want to do that with Aaron Rodgers. I hope the guy heals up, comes back, throws some more touchdowns and completes - whatever that completion is - the narrative of his career.

MARTÍNEZ: What does this mean for the Jets, though - we only got about 30 seconds - because, you know, Jesse, there is a seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback out there who's come out of retirement in the past. His name rhymes with bomb trady (ph).

WASHINGTON: (Laughter) Man, I hope that he stays retired.

MARTÍNEZ: (Laughter).

WASHINGTON: I think the Jets got to suck it up, man, and make it through this season and see what can happen. Zach Wilson, nice young man, was not the answer at quarterback last year, and I don't believe he's the answer right now.

MARTÍNEZ: Barely the answer on Monday night, too, yeah. Jesse Washington of ESPN's Andscape. Jesse, thanks.

WASHINGTON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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