NFL Hall of Fame Game yields largest audience since 2018: Jets-Browns preseason opener draws 6.3million viewers despite Aaron Rodgers sitting out in favor of backup Zach Wilson – Maxsports
May 19, 2024

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NFL Hall of Fame Game yields largest audience since 2018: Jets-Browns preseason opener draws 6.3million viewers despite Aaron Rodgers sitting out in favor of backup Zach Wilson

NFL Hall of Fame Game yields largest audience since 2018: Jets-Browns preseason opener draws 6.3million viewers despite Aaron Rodgers sitting out in favor of backup Zach Wilson

  • Rodgers rested for the Jets’ preseason opener, but it didn’t hurt viewership
  • Incredibly, 6.3 million viewers is more than the NBA averaged during the playoffs
  • DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news

Aaron Rodgers’ absence from the NFL’s Hall of Fame Game didn’t hinder viewership, as the annual preseason opener drew its largest audience since 2018.

Rodgers’ Jets fell to the Cleveland Browns, 21-16, while many starters remained in street clothes on the sidelines, including New York’s starting quarterback.

No matter. As NBC Sports announced Monday, the Thursday-night matchup still drew 6.3 million viewers, which is more than the NBA averaged during the playoffs.

Rodgers remained involved in the preseason opener, donning the headset as backup and former Jets starter Zach Wilson took over quarterback duties against Cleveland. In fact, Rodgers suggested a particular play call to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hacket, which resulted in Wilson’s 57-yard completion to Malik Taylor.

‘Great call by Aaron Rodgers,’ Wilson told reporters in Canton, Ohio. ‘I have to give him a shoutout there. We were backed up then and took the shot downfield. Malik’s done great job all camp and I wanted to get a ball to him.’

Aaron Rodgers' absence from the NFL's Hall of Fame Game didn't hinder viewership

Aaron Rodgers’ absence from the NFL’s Hall of Fame Game didn’t hinder viewership

Wilson, whose 2022 struggles necessitated the Rodgers trade, played well, completing 3 of 5 passes for 65 yards. He did, however, take a sack, which has been a problem for the former BYU star over his first two NFL seasons.

‘Zach did a good job, he was poised and looked comfortable in the pocket,’ Jets head coach Robert Saleh told reporters.

‘It’s just rebuilding that confidence and swag we [saw] during the draft process. No setbacks. It’s all about confidence with him.’

Wilson is seen as a likely successor to Rodgers, but it’s unclear when that transition may take place. The 39-year-old quarterback has not committed beyond this season, although he has strongly hinted several times his first year with the Jets won’t be his last.

Rodgers reiterated that sentiment last month during an appearance on the ‘DiPietro & Rothenberg’ show on ESPN Radio in New York.

‘The Jets gave up a lot for me, so to play just one year. I think, would be a disservice,’ Rodgers said. ‘Now if that one year turns out to be a magical year, who knows? It’s more than that, it’s how my body feels.’

In other words, a run to the Super Bowl could change all that.

But short of that, the Jets expect Rodgers to be under center next season — and perhaps beyond.

‘I would be shocked if he didn’t play multiple years,’ Saleh said in July. ‘I mean, he looks like a little kid out there.’

Rodgers said in the radio interview a tweaked diet and training regimen has his body feeling ‘really, really good’ at this point in the year.

‘Talk to me in three or four months, we’ll see how it feels,’ he said. ‘But the way I feel now, I think I could play a number of years.’

Rodgers was acquired by New York from Green Bay in April, bringing the four-time NFL MVP to a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs in 12 years — the longest active drought in the league. During his introductory news conference, he talked about how ‘lonely’ the Jets’ Super Bowl trophy from 1969 looks and the goal is to add another to a team starving to be a winner.