FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers says he'll use doubters as motivation in his rehabilitation from Achilles tendon surgery and indicates he'll play football again — perhaps even this season.
Rodgers tore his left Achilles tendon on the fourth snap of his debut with his new team on Monday night, a 22-16 overtime victory over Buffalo. The four-time NFL MVP had surgery Wednesday in Los Angeles.
“I think what I’d like to say is, give me the doubts,” Rodgers said in an appearance on ESPN's “The Pat McAfee Show” on Friday. "Give me the timetables. Give me all the things that you think can, should or will happen because all I need is that one little extra percent of inspiration. That’s all I need.
“So give me your doubts, give me your prognostications and then watch what I do.”
Rodgers' surgery was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, an orthopedic surgeon based in Los Angeles who has worked with numerous professional athletes during his career. The 39-year-old quarterback faces a long, arduous recovery and rehabilitation from the injury.
“Definitely some odds stacked against me based on age, but I like it,” Rodgers said. “Stack all the odds up against me and see what happens.”
He said he has spoken to several people who have had a similar injury and rehabilitation process.
“My entire focus and dedication is on acquiring the most information,” Rodgers said. “And then adding to what I’ve already put together is a pretty damn good rehab plan that’s going to, I think, shock some people.”
Rodgers wouldn't put any timetables on his return, but he made it clear he intends to play football again. He was asked if he means this season — if the Jets make it to the playoffs.
“I’m not going to make any of those statements,” Rodgers said. “I don’t feel like that’s fair to myself. I think, as Kevin Garnett said, anything’s possible.”
Rodgers said he knew the injury was bad nearly as soon as it happened because it felt different from previous calf injuries he has had during his career. He was sacked by Buffalo's Leonard Floyd, got up and took a few steps, looked over to the Jets' sideline and shook his head and then sat on the turf as the MetLife Stadium crowd sat in stunned silence.
“Monday was an amazing day to start,” Rodgers said. "Amazing night running on the field with the flag, electric. And then it turned into one of the toughest 24 hours stretches I’ve had in my life, for sure. A lot of sadness, a lot of tears, a lot of dark frustration and anger, all the gamut of emotions.
“But then the sun rose the next day, and I found myself in LA and had surgery on Wednesday. And since then, I’ve been feeling better.”
Rodgers said one of the worst parts was having his teammates see him in the locker room at halftime, particularly wide receiver Randall Cobb — who was also a longtime teammate in Green Bay and has a son for whom Rodgers is the godfather.
“I kind of lost it," Rodgers said. "And, you know, after everybody else came in, it’s just kind of blubbering some sort of thank-yous through the disappointment and the tears. But I’m thankful for the tears. It makes you feel like you’re alive. And I care about it so much. I care about what we were trying to establish and did establish, you know, chemistry-wise and culture-wise.
“I just care about it so much. It just hit me like a ton of bricks for 24 hours.”
Rodgers said he has been flooded with messages of support since the injury and appreciated everyone reaching out. He can't put any weight on his foot while it heals but intends to return to the Jets' facility when he's cleared to travel.
“I miss the guys,” he said. “I miss New York, New Jersey, the energy, the excitement.”
Zach Wilson will start in Rodgers' place at Dallas on Sunday and in the foreseeable future. The third-year quarterback struggled his first two seasons, but Rodgers took him under his wing since he was traded to New York in April.
“I’m very confident in Zach and I think he’s confident himself, which is the most important thing,” Rodgers said. “I’m excited for him. He’s a great kid. Love him, and I'm pulling for him.”
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