New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton "needs to keep my coaches' names out of his mouth" after Payton's critical comments regarding his predecessor, Nathaniel Hackett, who will once again serve as Rodgers' offensive coordinator four a fourth season in 2023, having previously held the position during three seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
"I love Nathaniel Hackett and those comments were very surprising, for a coach to do that to another coach," Rodgers told NFL Network's Peter Schrager at the Jets' training camp on Sunday (July 30). "My love for Hack goes deep. We had some great years together in Green Bay, kept in touch. Love him and his family, he's an incredible family man, incredible dad.
"And on the field, he's arguably my favorite coach I've ever had in the NFL, just his approach to it, how he makes it fun, how he cares about the guys, just how he goes about his business with respect, with leadership, with honesty, with integrity and it made me feel bad that someone who's accomplished a lot in the league is that insecure that they have to take another man down to set themselves up for some sort of easy fall if it doesn't go well for that team this year. I thought it was way out of line, inappropriate and I think he needs to keep my coaches' names out of his mouth."
Payton has since referred to mentioning Hackett as "a mistake," during a recent interview with USA TODAY. The former Super Bowl champion said the 2022 Broncos team experienced "one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL," while also comparing the acquisition of quarterback Russell Wilson last offseason to the fanfare surrounding the Jets trade for Rodgers during a recent interview with USA TODAY.
"Listen, I had one of those moments where I still had my Fox [network television] hat on and not my coaching hat on," Payton said Friday (July 28) via ESPN. "I said this to the team: We've had a great offseason relative to that, I've been preaching that message, and here I am the veteran stepping in it. It was a learning experience for me, a mistake obviously. I need a little bit more filter."
Hackett was fired by the Broncos after a 5-12 overall record in 2022. The 43-year-old was regarded as a rising offensive coach prior to being hired by Denver, having previously coached the Packers from 2019-2021, which included Rodgers leading the league's top scoring offense during the first of two consecutive Associated Press Most Valuable Player award-winning seasons in 2020.
Hackett was hired as the Jets' offensive coordinator this offseason amid speculation that the franchise had mutual interest with Rodgers, which he later publicly confirmed, ahead of an official trade in April.