This week, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19, and it was reported that he was unvaccinated. This was important, as it rules him out for at least 10 days -- a timeframe which of course includes Sunday's matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. Rodgers previously said he was "immunized," which led many to believe that he indeed received the vaccine. It turns out he was doing other homeopathic techniques to raise his antibodies, and petitioned the league to consider him vaccinated, which they did not.
On Friday, Rodgers joined The Pat McAfee show to discuss his decision to not get vaccinated. Here's what exactly went down. Rodgers lamented the NFL's COVID protocols and said that they were not always rooted in science. The reigning NFL MVP said the protocols had turned into a "witch hunt" to shame those who were unvaccinated. Here are some takeaways from his lengthy interview with McAfee:
Why Rodgers declined the vaccine
Rodgers said he was doing "very well" on Friday after not feeling great on Thursday. As for why he declined the vaccine, Rodgers said that he was allergic to one of the ingredients in the mRNA vaccines. This meant that he could only take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is something that he did not want to do because he had heard of multiple people "who have had adverse events around getting the J&J." He also brought up how it was paused temporarily months ago.
Rodgers said that he then looked into different methods to keep himself and his teammates safe, and found a long-term "immunization protocol" that involved multiple months. Rodgers then petitioned the league to accept his immunization status under their vaccination protocol. The league said this did not count as "vaccinated," and he was put into the "non-vaccinated" category. Rodgers appealed this, and was given multiple weeks where he says he gathered over 500 pages of research on immunization surrounding his case. Rodgers did not win his appeal.
The Packers quarterback also said that he had concerns about sterility and fertility "issues" due to the vaccine, as he says there are many things we do not know about this vaccine. Rodgers says he believes in "bodily autonomy." He wanted to make a decision that he says was in his best interest. Additionally, he said everyone on the squad and everyone in the organization knew he was not vaccinated. There was no secrecy to it.
The "immunization" quote
Rodgers testing positive for the coronavirus this week was not the main storyline. The reason this story became so big is because of Rodgers' previous comments on his vaccination status and if he followed protocols.
Rodgers was asked in August if he was vaccinated and he responded saying, "Yeah, I'm immunized."
Rodgers addressed this quote during his interview on Friday.
"First of all I didn't lie in the initial press conference," Rodgers said.
Rodgers explained that during that time, it was an environment which he described as a "witch hunt." He said that everyone in the media was very concerned about who was vaccinated and who would talk about it.
"At the time, my plan was to say that I have been immunized," Rodgers said. "It wasn't some sort of ruse or lie, it was the truth. Had there been a follow-up to my statement that I had been immunized, I would have responded with this: 'Look, I'm not some sort of anti-vax, flat-earther. I am somebody who is 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 crazed group of individuals who say you have to do something. Health is not a one size fits all for everybody.'"
Rodgers also added he would have explained how he was allergic to an ingredient in the mRNA vaccine among other reasons discussed above.
Rodgers spent time lamenting the NFL's protocols as well. He said if you are in the unvaccinated category, players have to adhere to "draconian" measures and protocols. Rodgers said they are not based on science, but more "shame-based" to get as many people vaccinated as possible so the league would look good.
The NFL is reviewing whether Rodgers violated any COVID-19 protocols this year, and the Packers could be subject to punishment. Pictures circulated this week of Rodgers not wearing a mask on the sideline or at press conferences, which is a breach of protocol if you are unvaccinated. Rodgers said he thought the mask rule was unnecessary.
"Some of the rules to me are not based in science at all," said Rodgers. "They are based purely in trying to out and shame people like needing to wear a mask at a podium when everyone in the room is vaccinated and wearing a mask makes no sense to me."
"I have followed every single protocol to a T, minus that one I just mentioned, which makes absolute no sense to me."
Rodgers went on to criticize the NFL's rules concerning COVID. He said he has to test every day, including at 5 a.m. on days of Packers' noon games. When he does his daily testing in the morning, Rodgers said he then has to wait in the car for 30-40 minutes before he's given the OK to head on in. Rodgers was upset that those who are vaccinated can go into the facilities right away after their tests, even if they end up testing positive and are later removed.
Rodgers had many issues with the protocols, but also called out the media for saying that players who are unvaccinated are selfish for making decisions concerning their own bodies. He finished the interview by saying that this situation he's in should be a conversation, not a controversy.