Like most players across the league – and fans across the country – Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was watching Monday Night Football on Sept. 11 when New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles four plays into the season.
Two days later, during his weekly news conference, Burrow was asked if he knows Rodgers and whether he had reached out to him.
What Was the Conversation Between Joe Burrow and Aaron Rodgers?
Burrow said his relationship with Rodgers didn’t go beyond the cursory midfield handshake after Green Bay came to Cincinnati and won in October 2021 and that he didn’t pick up the phone because “I’m sure he’s got so many texts going on.”
“I know how excited they were to have him and how excited he was to have a new start,” Burrow added. “That’s a tough way to start off the year, so I’m feelin’ for him.”
Two weeks later, it was Rodgers watching Burrow play on Monday Night Football and feeling for him. Not empathy, but pride.
Aaron Rodgers talking about Joe Burrow on @PatMcAfeeShow: "I don't think people realize how much pain and limited mobility he was in."
Rodgers sent Burrow a text: “That’s what great competitors do. They show up and play through the pain and don't make it a big deal." pic.twitter.com/EcOxnvUCMi
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 26, 2023
“For him to tough it out, I don’t think that people realize how much pain and limited mobility he was in,” Rodgers said on the Pat McAfee Show. “But for him to gut it out last night and to make enough plays to win, like I texted him, that’s what great competitors do. They show up and play through the pain and don’t make it a big deal.”
The two quarterbacks connected the previous week as Burrow was trying to manage the pain after reaggravating his calf injury. Rodgers has dealt with calf injuries in the past and did so again in the offseason.
“He’s dealt with calf issues his whole career and wanted to use him as a resource and get his thoughts, what he might have done,” Burrow said. “He’s been through it, done that. And he was great about it.”
Burrow said he intends to continue using Rodgers as a resource and that he appreciated his advice. Asked which piece of advice Rodgers offered was most meaningful, Burrow smiled and said he would keep that between them.
“He’s a great guy. Whenever you have a guy like that that’s willing to help, you’re going to use it,” Burrow said.
The ability to forge those kinds of relationships with players he respects is one of the things Burrow loves most about football, he said.
Those postgame midfield handshakes might be brief, but they’re meaningful to Burrow.
“I always value the relationships that you build in this game,” he said. “It takes a certain kind of person to get to this point and have success, and I think that’s what we all have in common. So when you get together, you can talk like you know each other, even though you really don’t.
“I love going up after the game and giving respect to people that make great plays, telling people they did a great job when I feel like they played well,” he continued. “That’s one of my favorite parts of the game. That’s really why I play it.”
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