By Terrance Turner
Nov. 5, 2021
On Nov. 3, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19. Unvaccinated players must isolate for 10 days if they test positive -even if they’re asymptomatic. That means that Rodgers will be unable to play this weekend. Backup QB Jordan Love will start at quarterback when the Packers play the Chiefs on Sunday night.
According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Rodgers pursued an alternative treatment and then petitioned the NFL to recognize him as vaccinated. The NFL declined. So Rodgers was deemed unvaccinated. As such, he was subject to NFL COVID-19 protocols. Unvaccinated players must follow protocols including wearing masks at all times; Rodgers has not worn one during indoor weekly and postgame press conferences, per ESPN.
In addition to this potential violation, Rodgers also generated harsh scrutiny for his misleading answers about his status. In an Aug. 26 clip, Rodgers was asked if he’d been vaccinated. Rodgers replied, “Yeah, I’m immunized.”
Immunization and vaccination are not interchangeable. The World Health Organization defines immunization as “the process by which a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine.” Vaccination, by contrast, “employs vaccines to stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect a person against subsequent infection of disease.” Despite this clear distinction, a bevy of observers — including comedian Jimmy Kimmel, author John Pavlovitz, and journalists Jemele Hill, Soledad O’Brien, Ralph Vacchiano, and Dave Zirin — have pounced on Rodgers, accusing him of outright lying. Hill went so far as to write that Rodgers’ comments “hint at a specific kind of self-centeredness; he seemed to believe that she was smart than anyone else in the room,” calling him “selfish as well as dishonest.”
Rodgers addressed the controversy head-on in an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” today. After parroting some GOP talking points about “the woke mob” and “my cancel culture casket”, Rodgers finally got to the root of his decision to not be vaccinated:
“I realize I’m in the crosshairs of the woke mob right now, so before the final nail gets put in my cancel culture casket, I’d like to set the record straight on so many of the blatant lies that are out there about myself right now and I appreciate the opportunity to tell my side of the story on here.
First of all, I didn’t lie during the initial press conference. During that time it was a very […]witch hunt that was going on across the league, when everybody in the media was so concerned about who was vaccinated and who wasn’t and what that meant and who was being selfish and who talked about it, what they meant when they said it was a personal decision; they shouldn’t have to disclose their own medical information and whatnot,” Rodgers said, “and at the time my plan was to say that I have been immunized.
“It wasn’t some sort of ruse or lie; it was the truth, and I’ll get into the whole immunization thing in a second. But had there been a follow-up to the statement that I had been immunized I would have responded with this: I would have said, ‘Look, I’m not some sort of anti-vaxx flat earther; I am somebody who’s a critical thinker. You guys know me; I march to the beat of my own drum. I believe strongly in bodily autonomy and the ability to make choices for your body, not to have to acquiesce to some woke culture or a crazed group of individuals who say that you have to do something. Health is not a one size fits all.
For me, it involved a lot of study in the offseason. like the study I put into hosting Jeopardy. I put a lot of time and energy and research and met with a lot of different people in the medical field to get the most information about the vaccines before making a decision, and in actuality, it was pretty easy in the beginning to eliminate two of them [the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines].
I have an allergy to an ingredient that’s in the MRNA vaccines, so on the CDC’s own website, it says, should you have an allergy to any of ingredients, you should not get one of the MRNA vaccines. So those two were out already. So my only option was the Johnson & Johnson [vaccine]. At this time in the early spring, I had heard of multiple people who had had adverse events around the J&J shot — no deaths or anything, but just some really difficult times and physical abnormalities around the J&J shot. And then in April, the J&J shot got pulled for clotting issues, if you remember that. right? So the J&J shot was not even an option at that point. So then my options became, ‘OK, what can I do to protect myself and my teammates, if it’s not one of the big three options for me and my own body?’
And so I looked into and talked, again, to a lot of medical experts and professionals and found that there was an immunization protocol that I could go to to best protect myself and my teammates. And it was a long-term protocol that involved, you know, multiple months, and I’m very proud of the research that went into that and the individuals that I met with and we felt like it was the best thing. And it’s not, again, something that the league didn’t know about. The league was fully aware of it, upon my return to the Packers, and it was at that point that I petitioned them to accept my immunization status as under their vaccination protocol.
Now, at the time, they had only had the ‘big three’ [vaccines] was what they were going to do and if you weren’t in the vaccinated category you were in a different category which included some draconian measures and protocols you would have to adhere to — which, in my opinion, were not based on science more based in a shame-based environment to try and get as many guys to get vaccinated as possible so that the league looks better to the rest of the world that was the focus of these protocols which I’ll get into when I finish this diatribe here.”
Nobody seemed to know or even care about Rodgers’ allergy or his reservations about blood clots. Instead, Rodgers was (and is!) trending #1 on Twitter throughout Friday afternoon, as more and more users piled on.
Hill, while continuing to ignore Rodgers’ allergy and clotting concerns, doubled down on her hit piece from earlier, writing on Twitter:
Though the reaction to his comments was loud and vitriolic, Rodgers himself contributed fuel to that fire by touting some questionable remedies and confidants. According to the New York Post, Rodgers decided to seek advice from (of all people) a controversial podcast host who himself recently tested positive for COVID-19. “I’ve consulted with a now-good friend of mine, Joe Rogan, after he got COVID and I’ve been doing a lot of the stuff that he recommended in his podcasts and on the phone to me,” Rodgers said. “I’ve been taking monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin, zinc, Vitamin C and D, and HCQ and I feel pretty incredible.”
Rodgers went on to question the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. “If the vaccine is so great, then how come people are still getting COVID and spreading COVID and unfortunately dying from COVID?” (Answer: Because no vaccine is 100% effective, and “breakthrough infections” are a thing.) Rodgers added: “This vaccine is revolutionary, the things that they’re doing. However, we don’t know a whole lot about it.” (I would not have thought that someone who claims to have done “500 pages of research” about immunization would be saying this.)
Rodgers dug a few more feet into his cancellation grave by quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. “The great MLK once said, ‘You have a moral obligation to object to unjust rules and rules that don’t make sense’, Rodgers proclaimed. The actual quote is from Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter to a Birmingham Jail”: “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
DEAR WHITE PEOPLE: Please stop using MLK and the civil rights movement to justify your choice to not get a vaccine.