New York Jets quarterback and four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers spoke at a psychedelic science conference in Denver, Colo. on Wednesday, advocating for the legalization and normalization of such substances. Rodgers was among the notable speakers at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies' annual conference, a group which also included former Texas governor Rick Perry as well as musician and actor Jaden Smith.
After initially using psilocybin, a hallucinogenic found in certain mushrooms, Rodgers spoke extensively about his experience using ayahuasca, a psychedelic tea that he began to take in 2020 before winning two consecutive MVP awards. Rodgers claimed that "hundreds" of fellow NFL players have asked him about psychedelics, and that he has also used ayahuasca to bond with teammates in communal settings.
"When I first did 'aya' in 2020, I remember thinking afterwards, like, I'm going to have to talk about this at some point," Rodgers said, per the New York Post. "Are people ready? How will it be received? Then I won MVP. Then I did it again. I said OK, I can probably talk about it now. But the cool thing has been the response. Not from the media that calls me a druggie, a hippie or whatever it was.
"To see basketball players and baseball players and surfers and entertainers and my own teammates and colleagues across the league reach out, and either share their story about their own medicine journey or ask to be a part of an upcoming one, is pretty special."
Rodgers' comments were made in a nearly hour-long discussion with podcaster Aubrey Marcus, which also included Rodgers pledging his support in the movement to secure acceptance and legal approval for the use of psychedelics in therapy. The conference in Denver took place only a few short months after Colorado residents voted to decriminalize the use of psychedelic mushrooms.
"We have the opportunity to change the conversation by dispelling these archaic myths about the dangers of them or the negative side effects or whatever might be and start to share the actual wisdom and truth about it," Rodgers said. "It's a permission slip for other people to stand up and talk about their own experiences, to join in and to dive in and to learn about it.
"And I think that's how we move this conversation forward is more people to be out there comfortable talking about their own journeys. Their spiritual journey, their medicine journey, their ceremonies. So we can bring this to people who need it."
Rodgers also took the opportunity to take shots at those who have criticized his exploration of psychedelic and alternative medicine, calling out "bums who come after me online" and claiming that his two MVP titles since taking ayahuasca make him difficult to "cancel". He also referenced the "anti-me" and his inner critic, citing it as being a driving force towards self-love.
Last year, the NFL said that Rodgers' use of ayahuasca was not considered a violation of the league's drug policy, as it would not have triggered a positive result for either a substance abuse test or a performance-enhacing drug test. Rodgers is set to enter his first season playing for the Jets after spending the first 18 years of his career with the Green Bay Packers.