Sport is an event that mysteriously transforms human beings. They change people, the people who play it, and the people who watch it. The pandemic has changed sports, and possibly athletes, possibly Aaron Rodgers. Seeking unorthodoxy, he discovered and embraced atrocity. Perhaps a plan to be traded, and abhorred to be worshiped for the pursuit of a true-looking self. People were puzzled by this too. In professional wrestling, this type of made-up cheating is called a heel turn. It’s baffling if you’re doing it wrong.
For now, his heels seem to be softening. So what sort of classification makes sense for Mr. Rogers’ time here as a person of interest? Rodgers has yet to throw a single touchdown pass for City. It could be a great season, or it could be a fiasco that turns a simple excursion like the one he “took” me on the other day into an ordeal. The working relationship probably won’t last more than a year. But maybe the residential ones will continue, prosper. Rodgers will turn 40 at the end of the regular season. I am not an athlete, much less an elite. But I know what it feels like to let go of a piece of his past and actually finally have a home here, here he is a New Yorker who turned 40. here freakin city new york. Whether you’re broke or flushed, it’s a relief, a great fortune, and perhaps the seed of social and emotional gluttony. “If this town were just an apple,” Michael Jackson once sang. “Then let me have a bite.”
Perhaps he, like many of us, will love this place. That, despite its apparent suffering, inequality, and mismanagement, New York remains a city where you can experience a tearing, bizarre farce about black existentialism like “Ain’t No Mo” and self-evident, exemplary white artists like Taylor Swift. and On a team as doomed and fanbase-fuelled as the Rangers and Knicks (and Jets and Mets), people on the street will give you space until, of course, they won’t.
I caught Rogers in Tony’s and swore he was a man discovering elsewhere what it was like to be himself, to experience what he’d seen on TV and in the movies and read in books. For some of us, it’s a dream to live in this “greatest city in the world,” and we cite musicals about the history that underpins such dreams. Admittedly I am naive. But it’s a sport, not really that different from an art. Suspending distrust works best.