Sometimes, you can’t avoid meeting your heroes. Just ask New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, who is now working opposite Green Bay Packers legend Aaron Rodgers in joint practices this week leading to the teams’ preseason clash this Saturday at Lambeau Field.
“I’m a big fanboy,” Wilson said of Rodgers. “We all have to kind of pretend like we’ve been there before. We’re enjoying just being out here and being able to talk to him.”
The No. 2 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft admitted that he idolized Rodgers growing up — though relented that Tom Brady is still the greatest of all-time because of his seven Super Bowl rings.
“I always tried to copy what he’s been doing because he’s done it the right way for such a long time,” Wilson said of the 16-year veteran, Rodgers. “He’s just a fun player to watch.”
A player that also makes it look pretty easy with nine Pro Bowls, three MVPs, a Super Bowl ring, and an age 37 season last year that saw him complete 70.7% of his passes for 4,299 yards, 48 touchdowns, and just five interceptions.
Obviously, that’s the kind of career that any young quarterback would dream about having, but Wilson understands that it’s a slow and steady process to become a franchise quarterback.
“It’s like I want to do what he’s doing, but when you’ve got 16 years of experience, and the checks and the calls he’s making on the field… The coaches, first of all, don’t want me to do that stuff,” Wilson said. “It’s too much on someone’s plate. There aren’t many guys in the league who can do what he’s doing out there as far as seeing what’s going on and changing plays.”
The Jets and first-year head coach Robert Saleh are keen on integrating Wilson every-so-gingerly into his role as the next franchise-savior-hopeful, using the preseason to ensure he just gets a good handle on Gang Green’s offense rather than showing flashes of becoming the organization’s next Joe Namath.
But picking the brain of one of the best to ever do it is just added insight for the youngster.
“We’re all technically at the same level now. We’re all in the NFL, but we’re all still kind of like, ‘You know what? That’s Aaron Rodgers,” Wilson said. “That’s kind of crazy.”