Quarterback Aaron Rodgers exited the Green Bay Packers’ loss Sunday night in Philadelphia because of what he called a rib injury, raising further questions about his NFL future. The four-time league MVP already was playing with a broken right thumb, and he and the Packers have been suffering through a mostly miserable season.
“The pain was intense,” Rodgers said during his postgame news conference at Lincoln Financial Field. “It still is. The pain was tough. And the breathing — I just couldn’t really breathe and couldn’t really rotate my upper body.”
Rodgers said he would undergo further testing Monday and, if a major injury is not found, he hopes to continue playing this season as long as the Packers have a chance to reach the playoffs.
“As long as I check out fine tomorrow, I expect to play [next] weekend,” Rodgers said. “As long as I check out okay tomorrow — I might not be able to go Wednesday [in practice]. But as long as there’s no major structural damage, I’ll try to get back out there.”
The 40-33 defeat to the Eagles dropped the Packers’ record to 4-8. They’ve lost seven of their last eight games since a 3-1 start to the season. Backup Jordan Love, a former first-round draft choice, took over for Rodgers in the fourth quarter Sunday with the Packers trailing, 37-23. Love threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Christian Watson as part of an impressive 6-for-9, 113-yard performance.
“I’m not shocked, to be honest with you, that he went out there and played well and showed great poise,” Packers Coach Matt LaFleur said in his postgame news conference. “We see it on a daily basis in practice…. I see it every day. I think he’s a guy that has continued to get better and better each and every day in practice.”
But LaFleur said that he had no plans to sit down Rodgers in favor of Love if Rodgers is able to play. The Packers play next Sunday at Chicago and then have their bye week.
“I wouldn’t say that,” LaFleur said. “We’ve got to have more conversation before we even get into that. But no, as long as he’s able to go, I expect him to be out there.”
The Packers announced during the game that Rodgers had suffered an injury to an oblique muscle. But Rodgers said after the game that was not the case.
“It was ribs,” Rodgers said. “It was in the first half and then got kind of reaggravated in the third quarter. I just had a hard time breathing and rotating my upper body. So I was worried about a punctured lung as well. So I wanted to get that checked out. I’ll get a scan tomorrow.”
Rodgers said it was “hard to tell on the X-rays” whether he’d suffered any rib fractures. He said his lungs were “fine,” and added: “Hopefully everything looks good tomorrow and then heal up for a couple days and see if I can go back out there.”
Rodgers left the field and headed to the locker room after being examined on the sideline. He later was shown walking from the locker room without his jersey. He watched the end of the game on TV in the Packers’ locker room, he said.
“I’m not quite sure when it happened,” LaFleur said. “But I know that in the third quarter… I was about to call a pass. And I could tell, like, he just wasn’t feeling right. And so we kept going run after run after run…. He was kind of like bending over and wincing. And so I knew that he was in a lot of pain. I mean, this is one of the toughest dudes I’ve ever been around. I don’t ever for one second question his toughness, his desire to be out there, his desire to compete.”
Rodgers actually apologized to him, LaFleur said.
“And I’m like, ‘Don’t ever apologize to me,’ ” he said. “I’ll never question that. This guy is the ultimate competitor. He’s been battling through a lot of stuff all year long. And it hasn’t been just this year. It’s been, I would say, the last few years that we’ve been together. And he doesn’t say anything about it. And he just keeps competing and doing the best he can.”
Rodgers turns 39 on Friday. He announced in March that he would return to the Packers for this season. He and the team soon thereafter completed a contract extension worth more than $50 million per season.
He said late Sunday night that he will not make a decision until the offseason about whether to play next season. He said he had not considered removing himself from the lineup for the remainder of this season.
“I don’t really want to take my mind there,” Rodgers said. “But as long as we’re mathematically alive, I’d like to be out there.”
The situation could change, Rodgers acknowledged, if the Packers are officially out of the playoff race. Some observers pointed out that Sunday night’s game came 15 years after Rodgers replaced an injured Brett Favre in a late-November game. Rodgers began the following season as the Packers’ starter.
“There’s obviously a lot of other conversations that come into play once you’re eliminated,” Rodgers said Sunday night. “And I’ll be open to all those conversations. Pride comes to mind, you know, the love of the game. But there’s other factors that obviously would come into play should we be mathematically eliminated.”
Rodgers stayed put with the Packers in the offseason after weeks of contemplating his football future following a disappointing end to Green Bay’s 2021 season. He won the NFL’s last two MVP awards. But the Packers failed to reach the Super Bowl despite entering those two postseasons as the NFC’s top seed.
He had a tumultuous 2021 season that began with him reporting to training camp following an offseason standoff with the front office. The turbulence also included him creating a national controversy when he vigorously defended his unvaccinated status after testing positive for the coronavirus last November.
Love, a first-round pick in 2020, made his lone NFL start last season while Rodgers was in isolation following his positive coronavirus test.