“If I can string together a few seasons of good health, then I don’t want to put a cap on my future. But I feel good about this not being just a one-year thing.” – New York Jets QB Aaron Rodgers on his future with the team
“Putting the pads on is pretty much the last step for him. Once he gets comfortable doing that, then he’s back and he’s ready.” – Bills CB Dane Jackson on teammate and childhood friend Damar Hamlin’s comeback
“I probably enjoy the job more than I ever have. I just think it’s that I’m not distracted by things that could be a pebble in your shoe. I just take the pebble out and keep moving.” – Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on his coaching mentality
“Rarely when word starts leaking that a guy can miss six weeks does he miss three or four — and if he does come back after three or four, there’s a good chance he won’t be in pristine health.” – King on Bengals QB Joe Burrow’s strained calf
STAMFORD, Conn. – July 31, 2023 – New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, and Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown speak with Peter King as he kicks off his 40th season covering the NFL. King’s 2023 Training Camp Tour begins with trips to the Jets, Steelers, Lions, and Buffalo Bills in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also discusses Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s comeback, Steelers QB Kenny Pickett’s upcoming sophomore season, and more.
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The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
AARON RODGERS & JETS
Jets QB Aaron Rodgers to King on contemplating retirement this past offseason: “I mean, I wanted to retire. That’s how I was leaning…The answer is yes I needed a change. I did think the change was gonna be retirement.”
Rodgers on deciding to continue his career with the Jets: “When I met with the Jets at my house, I really felt like I had to at least strongly consider that opportunity. The more I thought about it and meditated on it and got back into my workouts and felt really good about where I was at and still wanting to play then I just thought that was the best option for me and the best opportunity.”
Rodgers on giving up $35 million of his salary to create more financial flexibility for the Jets: “I thought it was important they knew how committed I was. And in my conversations with (Jets GM) Joe (Douglas), he has made it very clear the vision for the football team…I wanted to make sure that if somebody valuable came available that we’d be able to get him.”
Rodgers on the difference between the Jets’ and Packers’ coaching: “To have a defensive head coach puts a different framework on the team. The defense has a different confidence I think that they practice with. We had great defenses in Green Bay during our time. But it always felt like an offensive team.”
Rodgers on his relationship with Jets head coach Robert Saleh: “I enjoy coming to Robert with ideas or as maybe in a consultant role like, ‘Hey, I’ve been other places, I see this. I see that’ … I respect the hell out of him when he’s like, ‘Well I hear what you’re saying but I think I’m gonna do it this way.’”
Rodgers on his future with the Jets: “If I can string together a few seasons of good health, then I don’t want to put a cap on my future. But I feel good about this not being just a one-year thing.”
DAMAR HAMLIN & BILLS
Bills CB Dane Jackson (who grew up and went to college with Hamlin) on Damar Hamlin’s road to full contact practice: “He’s been out there for some practices, so he’s been out there feeling it. But putting the pads on is pretty much the last step for him. Once he gets comfortable doing that, then he’s back and he’s ready.”
King on Hamlin: “In the early days of training camp at St. John Fisher University, he’s been nearly as popular as matinee idol Josh Allen. I watched him for at least 35 minutes sign and pose and smile for Bills fans young and old after practice Sunday…Now he’s one of the most famous players in the league”
Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown on the team receiving more attention this season: “I’m just happy for the Lions, for us as a team to finally get some people to watch. I’m not saying we’re gonna go out there and win…I’m just glad that we have an opportunity to show what we can do.”
King on St. Brown’s chip-on-his-shoulder mentality: “The feisty St. Brown reeled off the 16 receivers drafted ahead of him in the ’21 draft (he got them all right) and told me he looks at the list three times a day…He delights in knowing his 196 catches in two years is more than any of the 16 receivers drafted before him.”
King on the Lions’ restructured running back room: “Turns out the Lions wanted (Jamaal) Williams, the NFL’s rush-TD leader with 17, back, but couldn’t agree on the price…I don’t get why the Lions didn’t think Williams was worth the $6-million-a-year they paid (David) Montgomery.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on the improvements of the team’s second-year stars: “Kenny Pickett and (WR) George Pickens, both second-year guys. Both significant contributors to our effort. It’s also reasonable to expect those guys to have great growth.”
Pickett on Pickens: “His catch radius, unbelievable. You just have to put it in his zip code.”
King on Tomlin’s thoughts on Pickett: “He knows the Pitt kid is his best option and has a good chance to become a long-term starter, but he’s not going to stand for another offensive season like last year, when Pittsburgh was 27th in scoring. That’s why he’s not ready to make any pronouncements on how comfortable he’s becoming with Pickett.”
Tomlin on his coaching mentality: “I probably enjoy the job more than I ever have. I just think it’s that I’m not distracted by things that could be a pebble in your shoe. I just take the pebble out and keep moving.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on Broncos head coach Sean Payton’s recent interview on the 2022 Broncos coaching staff: “It’s one thing to say to Russell Wilson: I’ve got your back. Me and you against the world, Russ. It’s another thing to lay waste to a good coach not ready to be a head coach, Nathaniel Hackett, and to football people still in the Denver building (‘20 dirty hands’). Just way over the line.”
King: “In some ways, Payton may have put more pressure on Wilson, because he totally, unequivocally absolved him of all blame in the disastrous 2022 season. Now, if Wilson doesn’t revert to top-QB form, Payton has set himself and Wilson up as punching bags.”
King on Bengals QB Joe Burrow’s strained calf: “Rarely when word starts leaking that a guy can miss six weeks does he miss three or four — and if he does come back after three or four, there’s a good chance he won’t be in pristine health.”
King on the Bills’ future in Buffalo: “Do not underestimate the unique circumstances around the Bills staying long-term in western New York. The sitting governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, is from Buffalo…The sitting commissioner of the league (Roger Goodell) spent the first 12 years of his life living in Jamestown, N.Y., an hour south of Orchard Park. He has a very soft spot in his heart for an NFL franchise in America’s 49th-largest market.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- NBC Sports EDGE’s Rotoworld Football Show continues the NFL discussion and Bet The Edge Podcast provides daily betting insights.
- The NFL on NBC YouTube channel offers daily football content for free, with exclusive videos from Peter King Mike Florio, Chris Simms, and more. To access all of these videos and more, click here to subscribe
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.