Aaron Rodgers has found his name in the headlines over the past 10 days for something other than his play on the field.
Rodgers made controversial comments regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and expressed his reasons for refusing to take the shot — after he was found to have made misleading comments regarding his vaccination status.
Following his first game back since testing positive for COVID-19, Rodgers said he understands the vaccine is a “very polarizing issue for some individuals” and is grateful for having people on his side.
“I’m just focusing on the support that I got. And it was deep and wide and greatly, greatly appreciated,” Rodgers said Sunday after leading Green Bay to a 17-0 victory over Seattle. “There’s always going to be criticism in this world. I don’t define myself by the criticism. But I understand it’s part of this because this issue is definitely polarizing.”
Rodgers said in August he was “immunized” when he was asked about his vaccination status, which led many to assume that he was vaccinated. After he tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 3, it was later found out that he was not vaccinated.
He said in an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” that he sought instead to immunize himself through treatments that had been recommended to him by his medical team and podcast host Joe Rogan, whom Rodgers considers a friend. Rodgers listed ivermectin and hydroxycholorquine, both of which the FDA has warned against using to treat COVID-19, as part of his regimen.
He expressed concern that the COVID-19 vaccine would impact his fertility and said he was allergic to some of the ingredients in the vaccine.
After receiving blowback for what he said, Rodgers acknowledged that his August comments were misleading but stood by the opinions he expressed on the show.
Because of his positive COVID-19 test and his status as an unvaccinated individual, Rodgers was forced to miss 10 days, including the Packers’ Week 9 loss to the Chiefs. He was eligible to return Saturday and was reinstated then by the team.
Rodgers told reporters Sunday — via Zoom so as to comply with NFL protocols — that as soon as he tested positive, he started figuring out how he could be back on the field for the Week 10 matchup with the Seahawks. He took part in Zoom meetings and was on nightly calls with the team’s offensive coaching staff during the week.
“I did the math and figured it’d have to be, one, I’d be healthy, and then, two, it’d be one of those weird weeks where you don’t practice all week and try and go out and play,” Rodgers said. “I knew it was going to be maybe a little bit different feel early on as I kind of got into the plan and got into the cold.”
Rodgers completed 23 of 37 passes for 292 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed twice for 8 yards.
Rodgers said after the game that he got misty-eyed on the field because he felt he couldn’t take for granted being able to leave it victorious.
“Walking off the field as a winner, you know, fun beating that squad, we’ve had some battles over the years,” he said. “Walking out with [linebacker Preston Smith], who I have so much love and appreciation for, and then hearing that type of response from the crowd was just a little extra special tonight.”
Rodgers was also asked whether he was concerned that he might have to miss the Super Bowl because of his refusal to get the vaccine if he’s deemed a close contact.
“I don’t really like playing the ‘what if’ game,” Rodgers said. “What I do know is I have more than two months right now where my protocol is not testing every single day. So that’s kind of the only thing that I’m thinking about. I don’t like playing the hypothetical game. Obviously, love to be playing that second weekend in February and hopefully we’re in that position.”