News last week that the former Butte College quarterback and Pleasant Valley High standout did not get vaccinated for the coronavirus was a stomach-churner. Arguably worse, though, was his cringeworthy appearance on a sports program on Friday (Nov. 5), the first time he commented publicly on the controversy.
Rodgers started the interview in martyrdom mode, saying he was in the “crosshairs of the woke mob right now.” He went on to claim that he didn’t get two of the three available COVID-19 vaccines last spring because he is allergic to ingredients in them. Rodgers explained that he eschewed the third, the Johnson & Johnson version, when it was linked to a few cases of blood-clotting in certain populations. That issue is extremely rare and found mostly in women, yet the Green Bay Packers All-Star not only didn’t get the jab, he also lied about it. To wit, when asked about his status during a press event in August, he responded, “Yeah, I’ve been immunized.”
While “immunized” typically means that one is vaccinated, his defenders may latch onto the fact that the textbook definition also says “make (a person or animal) immune to infection.” However, what they conveniently ignore is how Rodgers gave that answer when directly questioned about whether he was vaccinated. At the time, he hoped that the NFL would accept his form of alternative treatment as valid. That didn’t happen, however, and he didn’t come clean.
Therein lies the rub: Rodgers continued to act as though he was following league rules—until he got caught after testing positive. The dishonesty is the disappointing part.
We’re not interested in the effects on his team’s record from his mandatory temporary sidelining, though we have heard from many a devastated Packers fan. What we’re concerned about is how he misled the public and, therefore, may have put others at risk of infection. For instance, he did not wear a mask during press conferences, as the league requires of those who are unvaccinated.
Rodgers said his teammates were aware of his status, but that’s not the case for all the people in their orbit or the members of the press and the public who interacted with him. What he effectively did is take away their right to protect themselves by steering clear of him. For someone who calls himself a staunch believer in “bodily autonomy,” that’s pretty damn hypocritical.
Our guess is that Rodgers lives in an echo chamber, surrounded by “yes” people who don’t have the fortitude to challenge him on opting for whatever sort of homeopathic, Goop-esque coronavirus prophylaxis he took. At least, that’s what it looks like based on the things he said in that interview, which you’d think any crisis communication team he might employ would caution him against.
For those who missed it, he invoked the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in response to the blowback he’s received for shirking league rules: “You have a moral obligation to object to unjust rules and rules that made no sense,” he said. Yikes. Despite Rodgers’ rhetoric, most folks aren’t going to buy that he’s a victim here. Seriously, for someone who fancies himself an intellectual, he erred in a big way in the aforementioned interview.
A dose of reality was swift. He has rightfully taken a hell of a drubbing in the past few days, getting chided by sports commentators and mocked by The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live. He also has lost at least one lucrative endorsement deal, from a health-care provider.
Locally, the reactions are mixed. Wannabe State of Jeffersonians are firmly on Team Rodgers, while others are deeply disappointed. One of the things we at the CN&R find so baffling is that Rodgers is the same guy who generously donated money to help certain area businesses weather recent hard times wrought by the virus—economic difficulties worsened by vaccine hesitancy.
The best thing Rodgers could do now is to acknowledge that he erred and apologize for breaking the public’s trust. He should do so both to benefit public health—considering the potential influence on his massive and adoring fan base—and preserve a legacy that risks being marred by this sizable misstep.
Indeed, some humility would go a long way in this situation. Doing the right thing at this moment is much more important than any feat that involves throwing around a pigskin.