Jets confirm Aaron Rodgers tore achilles in debut for team

<span>Photograph: Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports</span>
Photograph: Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports

Aaron RodgersNew York Jets debut was short and brutal. The four-time NFL MVP left the field injured during the first series of his career with New York, who went on to beat the Buffalo Bills in thrilling fashion on Monday night.

Rodgers underwent an MRI on Tuesday and the Jets confirmed the quarterback had torn his left achilles tendon, an injury that will require season-ending surgery.

“I feel more for Aaron than anyone,” Jet head coach Robert Saleh said on Tuesday. “He has invested so much into this organization. So much into this journey that he’s embarked on and wanting to be part of what we’ve got going here, and how much he’s invested into not only this organization but his teammates, himself, this fanbase, this city. I have a lot of emotions for him. … It’s really all about him. It is. I don’t look at it like woe is me here for [the] New York organization. I think guys are excited about being able to step in and continue the things we’ve been building. But a lot of hurt for Aaron.”

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The 39-year-old left the Green Bay Packers this offseason to join the Jets, a longtime punchline in the NFL. It was hoped he would transform the fortunes of a team whose last playoff appearance came in the 2010 season.

But while the team have a talented defense and some young stars on offense, their offensive line has been under scrutiny and Rodgers was soon under pressure on Monday night against the Bills.

After he was sacked by Leonard Floyd, Rodgers stayed on the turf and had to be escorted off the field by members of the Jets staff. After a brief assessment, he was carted into the tunnel for further treatment wearing a protective boot. X-rays on the injury did not show any broken bones but Rodgers was ruled out of the rest of the game.

“Seeing him go down and going in and seeing him at half-time was tough,” Jets receiver Garrett Wilson said after the game. “I’m praying for Aaron and his recovery.”

He was replaced by back-up Zach Wilson, who struggled last season and threw an interception not long after coming on to the field. But Wilson gathered himself and threw a fourth-quarter touchdown to Garrett Wilson, who made a brilliant juggling catch to tie the score at 13-13.

The Jets defense had the larger say in the game, however, and Jordan Whitehead intercepted Josh Allen three times. New York also recovered an Allen fumble, which led to a field goal that put the Jets up 16-13 with under two minutes to play. Allen then led the Bills on a long drive and Tyler Bass’s last-gasp field goal tied the game.

The drama was not over though: the Bills’ opening drive of overtime fizzled out and Xavier Gipson, an undrafted rookie, returned the ensuing punt 65 yards to win the game on his NFL debut.

“That’s someone that deserves everything that comes his way,” said Garrett Wilson of Gipson after the game. “He’s special with the ball in his hands and I’m glad the world got to see that today.”

Rodgers is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and was traded to the Jets this year after 18 seasons with Green Bay, with whom he won a Super Bowl and made the Pro Bowl on 10 occasions. New York acquired Rodgers, the No 15 overall pick and a fifth-rounder in this year’s draft from Green Bay on 26 April. In exchange, the Packers got the 13th overall selection, a second-rounder, a sixth-rounder and a conditional 2024 second-round pick that would have become a first-rounder if Rodgers had played 65% of New York’s plays this season, something that now will not happen.

Rodgers, who has repeatedly said he won’t be one-and-done with the Jets, agreed in July to a restructured contract that gives him $75m in fully guaranteed money over this season and next. It amounts to a nearly $35m pay cut from the deal he had with Green Bay in which he was set to make $110m guaranteed.