Aaron Rodgers has joined the fray between the Jets and Broncos, which was ignited earlier this week by Sean Payton. The new head coach of the Denver Broncos recently spoke with USA TODAY, where he criticized his predecessor, Nathaniel Hackett, for doing “one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL.”
Hackett, who is now the offensive coordinator for the Jets, was let go by Denver midway through the 2022 season after the team finished 4-11. However, Hackett was a successful offensive coordinator in Green Bay, where he aided Rodgers in winning MVP in back-to-back years (2020 and 2021) before accepting the job with the Broncos. Since then, Rodgers and Payton have reconciled in New York, and in an interview with the NFL Network on Sunday, Rodgers fired back at Payton, calling Hackett “arguably my favorite coach.”
Rodgers declared, “Nathaniel Hackett is my favorite.” To hear a coach say something like that to another coach was shocking. I feel a profound affection for [Hackett]. We spent many enjoyable years in Green Bay together and maintained contact. Honor him and his loved ones. He is a wonderful father and husband.
When it comes to the field, he’s up there with my all-time favorite NFL coaches. I felt bad for someone who has accomplished a lot in the league but feels the need to tear another man down in order to set themselves up for an easy fall if things don’t go well for that team this year because of the way he approaches it, makes it fun, cares about the guys, and just goes about his business with respect, leadership, honesty, and integrity.
I found it totally unacceptable and offensive that he brought up my coaches by name.
In his comments to USA TODAY, Payton criticized not only Hackett’s time in Denver but also the Jets’ seeming preoccupation with the offseason and public relations rather than actual football. Without directly responding to Payton’s criticism, head coach Robert Saleh remarked, “there are a lot of crows pecking at our neck.”
Payton did issue an apology for his remarks on Friday, stating he had “still had my analyst had on and not my coaching hat on,” and adding, “It was a learning experience for me, it was a mistake, obviously.” I need to tighten up my filter a bit.
In Week 5 of the 2018 season, Rodgers and the Jets will travel to Denver to take on Payton and the Broncos.