Aaron Rodgers is inching closer to Gang Green.
After a group of Jets officials — including owner Woody Johnson, general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett — met with Rodgers in California on Tuesday, the Jets now believe they are “on the brink” of acquiring the Packers’ four-time MVP, according to an ESPN report.
With Rodgers, 39, uncertain whether he wants to return to Green Bay — which drafted the future Hall of Famer in 2005 — the Packers and Jets are reportedly negotiating potential trade compensation for the superstar, whose arrival would mirror the one-year stint of Rodgers’ predecessor, Brett Favre, with the Jets in 2008.
The appeal is obvious.
Rodgers is one of the greatest players in NFL history. The Jets desperately seek stardom at quarterback — a failed search that stretches back five decades and is responsible for the team’s league-worst 12-year playoff drought — and Rodgers and the Packers have long been on the verge of divorce.
After failing to hit on a series of high-first-round picks at quarterback (Mark Sanchez, Sam Darnold, Zach Wilson), the Jets understandably want a proven commodity — why former MVP and potential long-term answer Lamar Jackson, 26, isn’t part of the equation is less clear — but Rodgers is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, in which the Packers failed to make the playoffs in a weak NFC.
He has won the Super Bowl as many times as have Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson, going 7-9 in the postseason since his lone Super Bowl trip more than 12 years ago and falling short as a No. 1 seed three times.
Still, Rodgers’ arrival would spark Super Bowl talk; the Jets already have drawn enough action to be listed as the sixth-biggest title favorite (+1600) next season.
But expectations should still be tempered.
The Jets have promising young talent, but went 7-10 last season and remain in the league’s toughest division, in the league’s toughest conference.
The Chiefs, Bills and Bengals would remain a tier above, each with their own MVP-level quarterback. The Jaguars, Chargers and Ravens remain threats, too.
Prime Rodgers would have trouble leading the Jets to a Super Bowl. An aging version could simply be a Favre redux in a loaded AFC.
But it is the best hope the Jets have had in years.
Today’s back page
🏀 Knicks can’t overcome Jalen Brunson’s early exit as rally falls short
⚾ HEYMAN: Carlos Rodon injury is latest in Yankees’ mounting mound concerns
🏀 VACCARO: Rick Pitino is the wake-up call St. John’s needs
🏒 Patrick Kane scores first Rangers goal in shootout win
Judge’s hometown discount
The nine-year, $360 million contract Aaron Judge signed with the Yankees this offseason represents the third-largest deal in baseball history.
Turns out, the reigning MVP could have collected much more.
Before agreeing to stay in New York, Judge was offered more than $400 million — and the chance to form baseball’s best lineup, alongside Manny Machado, Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr. — to join the Padres, according to a report in The Athletic.
As Judge negotiated with the Yankees, the Padres made a strong pitch to put the California native on a West Coast title contender. The Padres reportedly paid for a private jet to bring Judge’s family, agents and dog to San Diego, where team ownership and management sat with Judge — who turned down an eight-year, $230.5 million extension from the Yankees one year ago and followed with a record-setting 62-home run season — for a three-hour meeting at Petco Park. A 12-year deal in the neighborhood of $415 million emerged.
The Yankees soon upped their offer to keep their new captain home.
Money meant so much when Judge turned down an eight-year, $230.5 million extension from the Yankees one year ago and followed with a record-setting 62-home run season. But the additional $55 million he could have received from the Padres — on top of his guaranteed generational wealth — wouldn’t have been spent in this lifetime. Staying home mattered more. Winning an elusive title in pinstripes would mean more than one in San Diego ever could.
College basketball’s new top coaching lifer
The two winningest coaches in college basketball history are gone. Mike Krzyzewski retired last year after 42 years at Duke. Jim Boeheim’s 47-year run as head coach at Syracuse ended Wednesday.
Now the longest-tenured active Division I basketball coach in the country is Oakland’s Greg Kampe — and he isn’t happy about it.
“I don’t really like it that I’m No. 1 now, because for Oakland it was always great, any TV game that we played, there would be this graphic of Mike Krzyzewski with the Duke logo, Jim Boeheim with the Syracuse logo, Greg Kampe with the Oakland logo … and for Oakland to be lumped in with that, that was really good for us,” Kampe, who has spent 39 seasons at the Michigan school, told Post Sports+.
“It was good for recruiting. It was good for our university. It was a real cool thing. Now I’m not gonna be lumped with anyone. It’s gonna be, ‘Who’s that guy?’ The one thing that I used it for is gone now.”
Change is at the core of college athletics.
Of the 353 Division I men’s basketball teams, 285 head coaches started at their current jobs no earlier than 2016. Only four head coaches have been at their current schools since 1999.
(UConn’s Geno Auriemma and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, the longest-tenured coaches in the women’s game, began their jobs in 1985, the year after Kampe started at Oakland.)
Kampe was a 28-year-old assistant at Toledo when the school’s baseball coach approached him at his cubicle and told him of the basketball opening at then-Division II Oakland, with a $29,000 salary.
“I said, ‘I’m not moving to California,’” Kampe recalled. “I’d never heard of it, and it was 90 miles away.
“When I took the job, I was 28 years old, I thought I would win the national championship in Year 1 and then get the UCLA job and win 50 national championships. That was my thinking back then. … Who would’ve thought I’d still be at Oakland and win that many games? How crazy.”
Kampe has amassed 670 wins, trailing only Michigan State’s Tom Izzo among active men’s coaches.
Kampe led Oakland to four NCAA Tournament trips in Division II, and another three in Division I, as the school’s enrollment doubled.
“I grew as a person, as a coach, hopefully as a mentor, while the university grew,” Kampe said. “I got to see all the buildings built. I know everyone.
“As we went through this, I said, I’ve got kids that love living here, and it was just hard to leave. It was a very unique thing in life where in your job you get to grow with a community, and that’s the big thing.
“One year we won the league and we won at Clemson in the NIT, you would’ve thought on our campus that we won the national championship. It’s just a really cool little place that nobody knows or cares about except for us.”
Kampe received multiple offers over the years to leave Oakland, attracting interest from schools such as Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan. Last year, he signed a four-year extension with Oakland, keeping him under contract through the 2026-27 season
“I came very close [to leaving] once, and the search firm guy still calls me to this day and tells me that I’m an idiot that I didn’t do it, that he could’ve gotten me a Power Five job from there,” Kampe said.
“Do I regret it? I don’t regret anything. Do I wonder what would’ve happened if I had? Sure. But I also might be a [broadcaster] somewhere now because I got fired.
“All the coaches that I grew up with back in the day … every single one of them has been fired, and don’t think I don’t realize and understand that, too. A lot of them were way better coaches than I am. Some of them ended up taking that big time job and making $5 million, but they’re out of a job.
“When you lay your head on the pillow at night and wonder what you should’ve done and what you’ve done, there’s solace that I’ve been able to hold onto this thing.”
There are five active pitchers who have won multiple Cy Young awards. Who are they?
Hint: Three of them have ties to the Mets.
(Scroll down for the answer.)
A guide to the World Baseball Classic field
The fifth installment of the World Baseball Classic began Tuesday night when the Netherlands faced Cuba, and the tournament featured its first upset the next day when Australia knocked off Korea.
Each team will play four round-robin games in the opening round, and the top two teams in each pool will advance to the quarterfinals — it’s single-elimination from there through the championship game on March 21 in Miami
Here are some potential MVPs and storylines to watch for each of the 20 teams competing over the course of the two-week tournament:
Chinese Taipei (0-1)
• MVP: Red Sox infielder Yu Chang
• Storyline to watch: Chien-Ming Wang — The former Yankees starter will serve as the bullpen coach.
• Next game: vs. the Netherlands, Saturday, 6 a.m. (FS2)
• MVP: White Sox third baseman Yoán Moncada
• Storyline to watch: Yoenis Cespedes — The onetime Mets slugger — and boar escaper — hasn’t played since 2020, but he hit fourth in Cuba’s order in their opener against the Netherlands.
• Next game: Chinese Taipei, Saturday, 11 p.m. (FS2)
• MVP: Royals first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino
• Storyline to watch: Matt Harvey — The former Mets phenom known as the Dark Knight pitched well in Italy’s opener as he auditions for a big league return.
• Next game: Panama, Friday, 11 p.m. (FS1)
• MVP: Padres shortstop Xander Bogaerts
• Storyline to watch: Kenley Jansen — The Red Sox closer, a native of Curacao, won’t join unless the Netherlands reaches the quarterfinals, according to USA TODAY.
• Next game: Chinese Taipei, Saturday, 6 a.m. (FS2)
• MVP: Dodgers outfield prospect Jose Ramos
• Storyline to watch: Ruben Tejada — Remember this name, Mets fans? He hasn’t played in the majors since 2019.
• Next game: Italy, Friday, 11 p.m. (FS1)
• MVP: Robbie Glendinning — Launched a three-run homer in the WBC opener vs. Korea.
• Storyline to watch: Alex Hall — Onetime Brewers minor leaguer was named the MVP of the Australian Baseball League after hitting .360 with a 1.066 OPS in 2022-23.
• Next game: China, Friday, 10 p.m. (FS2)
• MVP: Angels minor league pitcher Alan Carter
• Storyline to watch: Ray Chang — The 39-year-old infielder spent more than a decade in the minors between 2005 and 2016.
• Next game: Australia, Friday, 10 p.m. (FS2)
• MVP: Shohei Ohtani
• Storyline to watch: Yu Darvish — As big a story as Ohtani is, Darvish may be just as vital to Japan’s WBC chances.
• Next game: Czech Republic, Saturday, 5 a.m. (FS1)
• MVP: Jung-hoo Lee — The MVP of the Korean Baseball Organization could boost his appeal to MLB teams even more.
• Storyline to watch: Ha-seong Kim — Emerged as a key member of the Padres’ postseason run last year.
• Next game: Czech Republic, Saturday, 10 p.m. (FS1)
Czech Republic (1-0)
• MVP: Difficult to tell. Maybe former Angels farmhand Vojtech Mensik?
• Storyline to watch: Martin Schneider — A full-time firefighter and pitcher.
• Next game: Japan, Saturday, 5 a.m. (FS1)
• MVP: Freddie Freeman
• Storyline to watch: John Axford — With the exception of one appearance in 2021, the now 39-year-old former closer hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2018.
• Next game: Great Britain, Sunday, 3 p.m. (FS1)
• MVP: Rays utilityman Harold Ramirez
• Storyline to watch: Julio Teheran — With Jose Quintana injured, Teheran, who led MLB in starts with 2015 (33) and has made two All-Star games, could emerge as Columbia’s top arm.
• Next game: Mexico, Saturday, 2:30 p.m. (Fox)
• MVP: Trayce Thompson
• Storyline to watch: Cam Opp — He’s a Mets prospect, but friends have reportedly joked with him about being the “Benedict Arnold of the baseball world,” according to MLB.com.
• Next game: United States, Saturday, 9 p.m. (Fox)
• MVP: Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena
• Storyline to watch: Oliver Perez — Yup, the 41-year-old veteran (and former Mets) pitcher is still throwing.
• Next game: Colombia, Saturday, 2:30 p.m. (Fox)
• MVP: Mookie Betts (sorry, Mike Trout and Trea Turner)
• Storyline to watch: Pete Alonso — Will the Mets slugger struggle to crack the lineup with Paul Goldschmidt entrenched at first base and plentiful options at DH?
• Next game: Great Britain, Saturday, 9 p.m. (Fox)
• MVP: Julio Rodriguez
• Storyline to watch: Robinson Cano — He’s on the roster, but how much time will Cano get in a lineup that’ll already include infielders Manny Machado, Wander Franco and Rafael Devers?
• Next game: Venezuela, Saturday, 7 p.m. (FS1)
• MVP: Joc Pederson
• Storyline to watch: Jacob Steinmetz — He became the first Orthodox Jewish baseball player to be drafted in MLB history when the Diamondbacks selected him in the third round of the 2021 draft, according to MLB.com.
• Next game: Nicaragua, Sunday, Noon (FS2)
• MVP: Erasmo Ramírez
• Storyline to watch: Jonathan Loáisiga — The Yankees right-hander also needs to work on trimming his time in between pitches.
• Next game: Puerto Rico, Saturday, Noon (FS2)
• MVP: Francisco Lindor
• Storyline to watch: Marcus Stroman — Served as a key member of the United States team that won the 2017 WBC. This year, though, he’ll be one of the starters for Puerto Rico.
• Next game: Nicaragua, Saturday, Noon (FS2)
• MVP: Jose Altuve
• Storyline to watch: Gleyber Torres — The Yankees infielder will have to fight for playing time within Team Venezuela’s deep infield.
• Next game: Dominican Republic, Saturday, 7 p.m. (FS1)
Clayton Kershaw (NL 2011, 2013-14), Max Scherzer (AL 2013, NL 2016-17), Justin Verlander (AL 2011, 2019, 2022), Jacob deGrom (NL 2018-19), Corey Kluber (AL 2014, 2017)
By: Ny Post