By Mallory Allen, Mara Allen, Lindsey Gloede, and Abbi Pflum
It was the decision everyone had been waiting for. On Wednesday, March 15, 2023, Aaron Rodgers threw the sports world into a complete frenzy when he announced his intentions to play for the New York Jets in 2023. Rodgers — who has spent his entire 18-year career in Green Bay — shared his decision on the Pat McAfee show. He will follow his predecessor Brett Favre’s path in trading in the green and gold for New York’s green and white in hopes of one last chance at a Lombardi Trophy.
Rodgers will leave Green Bay as one of the best and most successful players in franchise history. He holds the record for most touchdown passes in Packers history, in addition to winning Super Bowl XLV and being named NFL MVP four times.
Rodgers’s announcement garnered mixed reactions from people around the world. Similarly, the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay — the university in the heart of Titletown, USA and the Packers’ higher education partner — had very different feelings about Rodgers and his intentions.
Just under 81% of people who took a survey – created by the authors of this article and sent out to UWGB students – identified themselves as Green Bay Packers fans. Surprisingly, even though the majority of survey respondents were Packers fans, many did not have a strong opinion or reaction to the news. 43% said they felt indifferent about Aaron Rodgers and his intentions to play for the Jets in 2023.
Junior Noah Oltmanns was at peace with the decision. “I’m okay with the Aaron Rodgers trade as either a trade or retirement has been expected ever since the Packers drafted Jordan Love,” he said. “Aaron Rodgers has had a memorable career in Green Bay and will go down in history as one of the greatest players to ever touch a football. I wish him the best of luck in New York and look forward to seeing him being inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame.”
Only 37% of respondents said they hope Rodgers is successful in New York as Oltmanns does. One said, “I hope he wins a Super Bowl for the Jets, and I wish him all the best.” Contrarily, 63% said they do not wish Rodgers success with the Jets.
30% of respondents said they were happy about Rodgers’s decision.
One respondent said they were happy to see Rodgers leave Green Bay because “he gives too much drama to the team and the news, and he puts [the Packers] in the spotlight too much.”
Another respondent echoed those sentiments, saying, “[I’m] ready to be done with the media circus that he is. Great player, but I almost feel like he’s been a detriment to the rest of the team.”
One respondent was extremely blunt, saying, “Honestly good riddance to [Rodgers]; he’s an overrated drama queen who is past his prime.”
Another survey respondent completely disagreed with these sentiments, saying they felt “like a large portion of this city and fanbase doesn’t appreciate what [Rodgers] brings to Green Bay.”
UW-Green Bay Sports Communication Professor Joseph Yoo explained that through the Theory of Social Identity, “Green Bay Packers fans identify the Packers, Rodgers, and themselves altogether.” This could help explain why some respondents had such strong reactions.
Senior Lucas Valind was part of the 24% who responded that they were sad upon hearing Rodgers’s intentions. “I was sad because I grew up watching Aaron Rodgers, and he was my first favorite Packers player,” he said. Though he was sad, Valind also felt a feeling of appreciation for being able to watch Rodgers play for the Packers for so long. “I understand that not a lot of players get to finish their careers only playing for one team. Even though I wanted him to play his entire career in Green Bay and was sad to see him go, I’m still glad I was able to grow up watching him play.”
Just under 4% of survey respondents said they were angry about Rodgers’s intentions. One said, “I would’ve been okay if he just retired, but then saying that he was going to go to a different team after he’s been with the Packers for so long makes me angry because it’s like he’s giving up on [the Packers].”
UW-Green Bay Sports Communication Professor Joseph Yoo explained that through social identity theory, “Green Bay Packers fans identify the Packers, Rodgers, and themselves altogether.” This could help explain why some respondents had such strong reactions.
UWGB students who are not Packers fans also had mixed reactions.
Senior and Detroit Lions fan Marcus Kazianka was happy that Rodgers would no longer compete in the NFC North. “During the past 15 years of his 18-year career in Green Bay, he has been dominant in the North. After the Motown Miracle and many other games of the Lions losing, it is nice to finally know he’s gone,” he said.
Rodgers will now compete in the AFC East. The AFC is loaded with young talent at the quarterback position, including Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow, just to name a few.
Cole Schrot, a senior at UWGB and die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan, isn’t worried about Rodgers and the Jets dethroning his team. “I don’t see the Jets as a threat [to the Chiefs] just yet, as I believe teams like Buffalo and Miami are still ahead of them. Rodgers didn’t play the best this past season, so maybe he is in his decline.”
Presumably, Jordan Love will take over for the Packers as QB1. Several survey respondents said they were “excited” to see Love play. One respondent was thankful for Rodgers but also optimistic about the Packers’ future with Love under center. “It’s just time to move on. I will always love Aaron Rodgers and be grateful for what he did for Green Bay… I’ll always be rooting for him, but I am also very excited for Jordan Love to lead the Packers!”
Others were more hesitant and less confident in Love’s abilities to lead Green Bay to a high level of play. One person said, “I think the Packers will struggle for a few years because it’s unlikely we will have 3 MVP QBs in a row….”
Much like the rest of the world, UWGB was incredibly divided about Aaron Rodgers announcing his intentions to play for the New York Jets. Fans will have to wait and see what transpires next, as no official moves have been made between the Packers and Jets.