Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson discuss embracing Aaron Rodgers and New York culture

Jets' first-round picks Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson are introduced at a news conference.
Jets' first-round picks Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson are introduced at a news conference. / Anne-Marie Caruso / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Jets continue to make headlines at the center of the football world as anticipation builds around a talented roster entering the 2023 season. As the young core develops, the addition of a four-time MVP award winner in Aaron Rodgers adds more intrigue.

Young stars such as the NFL’s Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year in 2022 in Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner represent the potential for the upcoming year. Following Rodgers’ arrival, both players spoke about the veteran’s early impact with the team.

Scroll to continue with content

“It hadn’t sunk in until I caught the first ball from him,” Wilson said. “That’s a legend right there and a Hall of Fame player. This is something I’ll tell my kids about 20 years from now. We’re going to work. He’s my teammate. That’s the mindset.”

On the defensive side, Gardner spent time on Tuesday chatting with Rodgers and discussing the transition to playing at a high level in the New York environment.

“We were just talking about it yesterday,” Gardner said. “There’s no pressure. When it comes to playing in New York, you have to tell yourself, ‘I’m built for this.’ Aaron and I were telling each other yesterday.”

Rodgers joins a team that sat on the cusp of a postseason berth a season ago. Despite the franchise’s postseason drought, the young receiver recognizes the extra pressure to perform as a team in 2023.


“We know what we have in this room,” said Wilson. “When you add someone with the accolades he has, we expect to compete with everyone in the league. I’d be lying if I said we had someone of Aaron Rodgers’ pedigree. We’re excited to have him and we know what comes with it. All eyes are on us. We’ve got to back it up on the field.”

Gardner added that learning to immerse all aspects of playing in the New York market can make a major difference for players transitioning to the area.

“We had that one-on-one moment at dinner,” Gardner said. “I was trying to tell him my experience. Embrace the New York culture. Embrace the New York media. Embrace the New York fans. Embrace everything that comes with New York instead of trying to be perfect.”