New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (left) and owner Woody Johnson Apr 26, 2023; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (left) and owner Woody Johnson pose for a photo during the introductory press conference at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Jets introduced new quarterback Aaron Rodgers Wednesday, he had already picked out a jersey number: No. 8.

That’s a change from the iconic No. 12 he’d worn during his career with the Green Bay Packers. That number had long been retired by the Jets in honor of legendary 1960s and ’70s QB Joe Namath.

In a kind gesture, Namath had even offered to have his old number unretired so Rodgers could use it.

Rodgers politely declined the offer.

“There’s some iconic names that have played here — probably not more iconic than No. 12,” Rodgers said Wednesday (via The New York Post). “And I heard what he said about in retiring his number, but to me, 12 is ‘Broadway Joe.’

“I didn’t want to even go down that path, and I’m excited about going back to my college [California] number.”

The 79-year-old Namath said Rodgers’ kind words “touched” him.

“That was warm, that touched my heart a bit, that shows something about the man,” Namath told The Post. “He has a way about him, a lot of respect for the past. I was humbly grateful, you know what I mean? It felt good. It made me like [him] even more.

“First time I met him I liked him, and I’ll tell you what, I’ve not seen anybody play better than him the times over the last 10, 15 years I’ve been watching.”

Namath was asked why he’d want to unretire his number in the first place. He told The Post the answer is simple: “Because I want to see the Jets win. I’d love to see ’em win a championship. We’ve had a strong following for a long time, and I want not only the players to get the championship for themselves, but for the fans.”

The legendary Namath is a good guy to have in your corner on your first day at work. Namath famously guaranteed the Jets would beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in 1969. Rodgers is hoping to lead the Jets back to the big game for the first time since that historic upset.

[New York Post]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.