Former NY Jets QB offers empathetic advice to Zach Wilson

Vinny Testaverde knows exactly what Zach Wilson is going through
NY Jets, Zach Wilson
NY Jets, Zach Wilson / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

Few NFL players can empathize with the roller coaster of a two years NY Jets quarterback Zach Wilson has spent in the NFL.

The former No. 2 overall pick has been declared a franchise savior, become the laughingstock of his organization, and promptly benched in favor of three different quarterbacks in a span of less than two full calendar years.

While Wilson has spent the offseason learning under the guidance of Aaron Rodgers, this is one thing that Rodgers can't teach him. But another former Jets quarterback certainly can.

Per ESPN's Rich Cimini, former Jets QB Vinny Testaverde sought out Wilson on a recent visit to Jets training camp, and the well-traveled NFL veteran shared some advice with his younger position-mate.

Of course, Testaverde, the first overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft, struggled mightily in his first few seasons in the league. He led the NFL in interceptions in his first two full seasons as a starter. Testaverde was partially a victim of some really bad Tampa Bay Buccaneers teams in the late '80s.

Testaverde was able to turn his career around, though. He offered some advice about how to keep pushing through the adversity.

"I was in [Zach Wilson's] position and, 21 years later, retired from the league. Who's to say he can't play in the league for a long time at a high level?"

Vinny Testaverde

NY Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is hoping to pull a Vinny Testaverde

The NFL is very much a league predicated around the notion of "What have you done for me lately?" Wilson may have been a highly-touted quarterback prospect and the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but his struggles over the last two years essentially erase that.

That doesn't mean Wilson's career is over, however. Testaverde is a prime example of that. The New York native didn't make his first Pro Bowl until the age of 33 with the Baltimore Ravens in 1996. He led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game at age 35 in 1998. He was still starting games at age 44 in 2007.

Testaverde's story is one of perseverance, and there's no reason why Wilson can't experience a similar career turnaround. That's the message Testaverde was hoping to share.

Just look at former Jets quarterback Geno Smith as another example. Smith was universally declared a draft bust and career backup before he received an opportunity to start with the Seattle Seahawks last season. Now, he's coming off his first Pro Bowl season at age 32.

Wilson's future might not be with the Jets, but he has an opportunity to salvage a career in the NFL. Testaverde did it. Smith did it. They are proof that it is possible.

The road to redemption is long and arduous, but it's oftentimes more attainable than people realize.