Aaron Rodgers's Road to Recovery

Aaron Rodgers's Road to Recovery

The Jets had their sights set on a playoff run in the 2023 NFL Season, with the acquisition of veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers to supplement rookie standouts from last year: Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall, and Sauce Garnder. In tragedy for the Jets, Rodgers, who ranks ninth all-time in QB receiving yards, tore his Achilles just minutes into the season opener, leaving the team in the hands of the young and unproven Zach Wilson at QB.

An Achilles tear is a career-changing injury, with a 9-12 month recovery period for the 75% who make a full recovery. In a seemingly absurd statement this week, however, Rodgers claims he aims to return in mid-December, just over 4 months after he sustained the injury.

A quick return from an Achilles injury is not impossible, as Cam Akers, after tearing his Achilles during 2021 preseason, returned to the field 6 months later and helped the Los Angeles Rams win their 2nd Superbowl. It is important to note, however, that Akers was 22 when he underwent the procedure, and Rodgers 39. It does not bode well for Rodgers that almost all Achilles surgeons cite age as the strongest predictor of success after injury to the tendon, including Dr. Peter DeLuca, the chief of sports medicine at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center.

Need for Speed

The innovative new technology for repairing Achilles injuries, the SpeedBridge, is the catalyst behind Akers and potentially Rodgers's unprecedented speedy recovery. The SpeedBridge aids recovery compared to conventional procedures in a number of ways:

-A smaller incision reduces the time required for closure and healing
-The minimally invasive approach reduces blood supply disruption which leads to quicker healing
-The SpeedBridge uses a 4 anchor technique and applies FiberTape® (an ultra high-strength suture) in an hourglass pattern in order to broaden the area of compression and create more stability compared to the conventional method which only uses a single point of compression.
-The tendon is anchored to the heel as opposed to the tendon itself which creates for further increased stability
-Due to these benefits, patients are able to begin rehab sooner, which decreases muscle atrophy in the calf which can prolong recovery

Unfortunately for Akers, he tore the Achilles on his other leg this season with the Vikings. Being on the other leg, however, it doesn't seem to be related to the SpeedBridge. Rodgers will hope to avoid the same fate.

SpeedBridge Procedure ( (https://www.orthoracle.com/content/uploads/2019/12/Achilles-SpeedBridge™-1.pdf)

Are Rodgers's Aspirations Realistic?

Rodger's statement to NBC comes after weeks of teasing. Videos surfaced of him throwing footballs in pre-game warmups, and it is reported that he is running on 50% of his bodyweight. Rodgers reported on the telecast: ‘I know it sounds insane, but you do a good surgery, you have a good patient, it makes this possible'.

There are even rumors that Rodgers is on some sort of heavy pain-reducing or hallucinatory drug to make his current abilities look stronger than they are. This is not completely out of left field as Rodgers consistently advocates for the legalization of certain psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin and ayahuasca. On a podcast with Aubrey Marcus, Rodgers had this to ask: “Is it not ironic that the things that actually expand your mind are illegal and the things that keep you in the lower chakras [energy points in the body] and dumb you down have been legal for centuries"? Drugs aside, Rodgers believes in psychological experiences as well, immersing himself in a 4-day darkness retreat to provide clarity regarding his NFL future following the 2022 season. There are more absurdist rumors that the whole injury was just a publicity stunt. Strange.

In truth, the only people who know the nature of Rodgers's recovery and return are himself and his doctors, and all we can do is speculate. What we do know is that the Jets could use him, we'd love to watch him, and it would be one of the craziest football stories of this generation if we saw Aaron Rodgers again this season.


Arthrex. (n.d.). Achilles midsubstance speedbridgeTM repair. Achilles Midsubstance SpeedBridgeTM Repair. https://www.arthrex.com/foot-ankle/achilles-midsubstance-speedbridge-repair

Campbell, D. (2023, November 6). Vikings lose Rb Cam Akers for rest of season because of achilles tendon rupture. AP News. https://apnews.com/article/vikings-cam-akers-achilles-injury-30d431b7735f8a8b1645ba849b23caa3

Anderson, M. (2023, November 13). Aaron Rodgers tells NBC he targets a mid-December return from torn Achilles tendon. AP News. https://apnews.com/article/aaron-rodgers-injury-return-goal-december-e14f715e302beb3ef6dd53489b720c69

Woodyatt, A. (2023, February 8). Aaron Rodgers will undertake four-day “darkness retreat” to consider NFL career. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2023/02/08/sport/aaron-rodgers-nfl-future-darkness-intl-spt/index.html