by Ashira Kolupoti ‘24
Published Dec. 1st, 2021
Since testing positive for COVID-19 in early November, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has faced criticism for his comments on vaccination.
Rodgers had previously told reporters that he was “immunized” against COVID-19 during a press conference in August a few weeks before the 2021 NFL season had started. He explained that after doing his own “research” into the vaccine, he underwent treatment which helped immunize him against the coronavirus. It was later revealed that he was not vaccinated after contracting the virus.
The NFL has fined both Rodgers and the Packers for failing to follow COVID-19 protocol. Aaron Rodgers faces a $14,650 fine while the Packers face a $300,000 fine. Due to Rodgers’ 10-day quarantine, he was unable to play against the Kansas City Chiefs, prompting the Packers to start Jordan Love in an uninspiring 13-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite missing time with the team, Rodgers played admirably in a bounce-back win over the Seahawks in Week 10.
Sitting down with Joe Rogan, Rodgers made multiple comments that angered fans and critics alike, most notably a bizarre reference to Martin Luther King Jr. in which he claimed he had “a moral obligation to object to unjust rules and rules that make no sense.” Rodgers furthered his defense, calling himself a critical thinker whilst shunning the conspiracist label and cancel culture in general.
Rodgers’ situation is similar to that of NBA star Kyrie Irving, who has remained sidelined for his refusal to get vaccinated despite league policy, raising similar public criticism.
The NFL’s mid-October vaccination rate of 94.1% and rigorous testing protocol are representative of a league that has remained relatively COVID-safe over the course of the season. However, Rodgers’ comments come off in poor taste and represent the struggle of misinformation in the media that has been influenced by countless athletes over time.