NFL legend likens retirement to dying when talking about Aaron Rodgers possibly walking away


NFL legend Steve Young and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady talked about Aaron Rodgers and the possibility the Green Bay Packers star will call it quits before the start of the 2023 season.

Young appeared on the latest edition of the “Let’s Go!” podcast and got a bit serious when talking about what Rodgers is really contemplating when he is deciding to put the pads back on for another year.

“What he’s contemplating is, in my mind, a death,” Young explained. “And who chooses death? … Because when you’re the best at something in the world and then you leave the game and the next day you’re not that anymore and you find out — you know what? — I’m not actually even good at anything else. … So you end up wanting so much to go back to the thing I was great at. Not because you want the adulation and people to tell you that you’re great, like there’s something that you’re great at. And as a human being you don’t want to [‘suck’ Brady said] and that’s my highest and best use.”


Steve Young looks on prior to a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on Jan. 7, 2023 in Las Vegas.
(Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)

Young, who played in the NFL from 1985 to 1999, said that Rodgers is making a very difficult decision.

“What [Rodgers] is contemplating is a really difficult thing, and people have no idea — having been there and felt that and have to deal with it,” the former San Francisco 49ers star said. “I always tell people, ‘The next day you’re at the bottom of a cliff in a broken sack of bones.’ And then you gotta stand up and start doing something different. But it’s never going to be the same.

“It’ll never be as all-encompassing, every bit of yourself poured out every week. There’s nothing like it. And that’s why Aaron is sitting in that spot, looking over the cliff going, ‘I don’t want to fall down there. I don’t want to go there. I don’t.’ And that’s really [how I] viscerally feel him today.”


Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, #12, and Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, #18, walk off the field after a game between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on Jan. 8, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
(Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Brady agreed about the emotions behind a big decision like retirement.

“Those are absolutely legitimate feelings and emotions, “Brady said. “And I think the most important thing is the day after the season, and I made this mistake, is not to decide the future.”

The possibility of retirement has swirled around Rodgers for the entire season. However, speculation started again on Sunday after the Packers lost to the Detroit Lions and were eliminated from the playoffs.

Lions rookie Jameson Williams asked to swap jerseys with Rodgers, but the veteran NFL star said he was “gonna hold on to this one.”

Rodgers explained his thinking in the postgame press conference.

“Do I feel like I have anything left to prove to myself?” he said, via ESPN. “Do I want to go back and gear up for another grind? Or is it time? Is time to step away? Is it time for another voice to be leading this team?

Aaron Rodgers, #12 of the Green Bay Packers, warms up prior to the game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on Jan. 8, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
(Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)


“I think I need to get away and contemplate those things. Those are real to me. I have a lot of pride in what I’ve accomplished in this league, but I’m also a realist, and I understand where we’re at as a team. We’re a young team; there could be some changes with some of the older guys, and it could be time to step away. But I could take some time and say hell no, man, I need to get back out there and go on another run. But I’ll have to see what it feels like once I’m away from it.”