Aaron Rodgers! Taylor Swift! Daniel Jones! The Situation! and More Aaron Rodgers!

Jun 1st 2023

Mike Tanier

OMG, New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers attended the Taylor Swift concert at MetLife Stadium over Memorial Day weekend!

That settles it: Swiftie Rodgers is not just a future Hall of Famer but a regular person just like you and I.

Actually, the first thing a shape-shifting alien infiltrator or sentient AI cyborg trying to blend in as a normal human would probably do is declare their Taylor Swift allegiance. Such an imposter would probably also say things like “I watched every episode of Succession!” and “Beep-boop, I like bacon.” If American Psycho were written today, Patrick Bateman would be a Swiftie, not a Phil Collins fan.

Also, Rodgers attended the concert with actor pal Miles Teller, who played Reed Richards in the least watchable of the three Fantastic Four movies. Hanging out with Mr. Fantastic won’t convince anyone that you are not a shape-shifting alien infiltrator, Aaron: you could totally be a Skrull.

Teller once appeared in a Swift music video alongside his wife Kaleigh, who also attended the show and got to hang out backstage afterward with America’s only remaining true pop-music icon. Rodgers attends the same concerts we do, but not the same way.

As for Zach Wilson, he's probably more of a Sheryl Crow fan.

There are lots of Instagram photos/videos of Rodgers yukking it up with his famous-ish pals, including one where he howls “The Jets won the Super Bowl” as confetti rains down on the crowd. It would be inappropriate and childish to suggest that Rodgers, flashing the Grinch-Just-Had-a-Cruel-Idea grin that indicates he is experiencing enjoyment-like sensations, looked like he munched a Big League Chew-sized wad of sativa gummies about two hours before showtime. But the confetti video would be much less cringe if he had.

Rodgers can go to all the concerts with all the B-tier superhero actors he chooses, of course: rich-and-famous folks should enjoy their riches and fame. All that matters is that he gave the Internet an excuse to include “Aaron Rodgers” and “Taylor Swift” in one headline. That’s a Search Engine Optimization speedball, boys and girls. And it’s all about that sweet, sweet SEO, which is why I crammed “New York Jets quarterback” awkwardly into the first paragraph (or lede, as very experienced journos like me call it).

Rodgers is as much a content model as a quarterback right now, and Rodgers Attends Swift Concert is tremendous content for anyone hoping to increase their engagement and public profile. Like me. Or like Miles Teller, who also played Young Pilot Who is Not Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick, making him the perfect casting choice as Concert Attendee Who is Not Aaron Rodgers.

Aaron Rodgers, The Situation and Pork Roll

... Or like Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. When Rodgers revealed in a recent press conference that he was a Jersey Shore fan (beep-boop, age/location-appropriate cultural reference successfully deployed), Sorrentino lunged at the chance to grab a sliver of residual cultural relevance.

"Everyone just had a big smile on their face," Sorrentino told Chris Jordan of the Asbury Park Press, which is the New England Journal of Medicine for all things Snooki-adjacent. "The group chat was lit."

Sorrentino also offered Rodgers some unsolicited advice about New Jersey life: how to pump gas (we don't) and what to eat. “Everybody knows when you come to Jersey, you're probably going to get the best pizzas, the best bacon, egg and cheese, the best Italian," Sorrentino said.

Wait a minute, buddy: I've lived in Jersey longer than you have, and it's pork roll, egg and cheese. Every state in the union has bacon. Sheesh, it's getting so you cannot rely on professional nitwits for accurate information anymore. (Also, since when does The Situation say that Jersey "probably" has the best anything?)

Sorrentino also said that a meetup with Rodgers is a “must.” The possibility of physical contact with the Jersey Shore cast may be what finally changes Rodgers’ mind about vaccinations.

The Rodgers-Jersey Shore connection would have gotten more attention if it didn’t feel like such a stale reminder that everyone involved peaked circa 2011.

Aaron Rodgers v. Daniel Jones: Dawn of Clickbait

Over on the football side of things, NJ.com columnist Bob Brookover performed a textbook “veteran move” by declaring that New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is, in fact, better than Rodgers.

I am NOT criticizing Brookover. Just the opposite. The goal of late-spring NFL content is to get someone, anyone to react to it. Lots of content-starved Jets and Giants blogs pounced on the cheese. So did I, come to think of it.

Brookover’s column is a reasonable point-by-point analysis of Jones versus Rodgers smothered in delicious clickbait frosting. The argument boils down to the fact that Jones was statistically superior or roughly equal to Rodgers in several categories in 2022, despite a weaker supporting cast, and is also far younger, etc.

Not mentioned in the column but noteworthy: Jones is much less likely than Rodgers to get in an argument outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal about whether chlorine in drinking water causes mind control or merely infertility.

Brookover’s argument is not all that convincing, but it does illustrate the perils of ranking quarterbacks based on their reputations: Rodgers and Jones are closer in ability than they appear in your mind, and they are trending in separate directions.

More importantly from an engagement standpoint, pairing Rodgers with Jones is the geometric mean between pairing him with Swift and pairing him with The Situation. Also, Brookover’s column contains football, not just pictures of posing actors/quarterbacks/pop divas.

In case you are wondering, Jones finished 20th in Aaron Schatz’s DVOA metric in 2022, Rodgers 21st, and both graded out as roughly league average according to the analytics. Rodgers may still be a top 10 NFL quarterback, but we’ve reached the point where we start hedging with phrases like “top 12” or “top half of the league.”

Jones, on the other hand, is the Miles Teller of quarterbacks.

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers: Learning to Let Go

Meanwhile in Green Bay, The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman published a deep dive into the messy Rodgers-Packers divorce, and bless him for wading through endless transcripts of Rodgers podcast diatribes to create something of a document-of-record of those long dark days of dysfunction.

Per Schneidman’s sources, Rodgers lobbied to get Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst fired early in the 2021 offseason. That’s not surprising, since Rodgers skipped all of 2021 OTAs and kicked off that year’s training camp by reading a slightly unhinged manifesto of grievances like a Florida mom trying to convince the local school board to ban dictionaries.

Schneidman also recounts Rodgers’ version of events when he and Gutekunst tried and failed to connect in January, on or around the “darkness retreat” era.

“When I hit him back, he was already out of town,”Rodgers said, “but it wasn’t like I hit him back like five days later. He hit me up, like, in the morning of one day. I hit him up either the night or the next morning or the next day and then he was gone."

In other words, Rodgers’ boss contacted him about what was obviously a major, eight-to-nine-figure career decision for both sides, making it clear that he was only in Los Angeles briefly (for the NFLPA Bowl), and Rodgers got back to him, maybe, within 30 hours or so.

It sounds like Rodgers was trying to get fired – or at least traded – by purposely angering upper-level management types whom he no longer trusted. From my vantage point, that’s the most relatable thing he’s done in years.

Aaron Rodgers is a Very Normal Person Creature

It’s exciting that Rodgers joined the Jets. Even a shriveled soul like mine gets it. Rodgers is a fascinating character, he remains a very good-to-excellent quarterback, and he’s undeniably famous. The Rodgers Takes Manhattan storyline gives us all something to do besides fret about running back committee rotations based on June minicamp reps.

But I covered Brett Favre’s Jets season. I covered the Tim Tebow season in person. I remember when Mark Sanchez was The Sanchize and Sam Darnold “arrived.” Maybe covering Rodgers for over a decade has made me a conspiratorial wingnut via close contact, but there’s something weirdly coded and stilted about every headline, interview or stray remark by or about Rodgers.

Take this blurb from Jets cornerback D.J. Reed, speaking about Rodgers’ arrival on the team website:

"He's a Cali boy, cool dude. Once he came here I texted him and said 'let's go.' He was excited, too. He's just focused. You can tell the way he works out and trains, leading by action. He asked me how the baby [Reed's daughter is almost 6 months old] is doing. I didn't tell him, but he knew I had a newborn. He's really funny, too. In the weight room he was playing hip hop and everyone was 'OK, respect.' It's funny because you wouldn't expect him to listen to that."

Note that Reed never makes it clear whether Rodgers texted back or not. Rodgers knowing Reed is a new father is legitimately sweet, but it’s weird to once again feel the need to stress that Rodgers is an actual human who is courteous to teammates and knows how babies work.

And Rodgers listens to hip hop (beep-boop, generic setting-appropriate popular music genre successfully deployed) in addition to Taylor Swift! He really is one of the guys! It’s important for everyone in the Jets organization to stress that he is one of the guys!

It’s all so normal that it’s abnormal, especially coming from Rodgers. Rodgers would come across as more of a regular guy if he did something weird. C’mon Rodgers: attend a King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard concert stoned out of your gourd on trippin’-and-poopin’ tea! Explain that you sleep in a coffin filled with Skittles to prevent government satellites from stealing your dreams! Admit, Cali boy, that you would rather share a vaccine needle with Gutekunst than set foot on a New Jersey beach! Rip the band-aid off your true personality now, before the New York Post does it after the first Jets loss to the Bills!

Jori Epstein of Yahoo! Sports quoted running back Breece Hall about his recent night out on the town with Rodgers. "He said it was cool for him to just walk around like a normal person because he wasn’t able to do that for the past…a million years."

Yep, just a typical night of pizza and NHL hockey, except that it's also precious content for an insatiable media market just waiting for that first little faux pas.

If Rodgers really craves to be normal, he picked the wrong place to try it.