Aaron Rodgers concedes he was misleading on vaccination status and that his stance is 'polarizing'

Ryan Wood
Packers News
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GREEN BAY - Four days after setting off a firestorm with comments against COVID-19 vaccinations, Aaron Rodgers returned to "The Pat McAfee Show" on Tuesday in a more conciliatory tone. 

Rodgers acknowledged he was not forthright with his vaccination status in training camp, and that his stance on not getting vaccinated is divisive. He also said his opinion on not getting the vaccine is unchanged. 

Backlash from Rodgers’ comments included the end to his partnership with Prevea Health, though State Farm issued a statement Monday saying it would stand by the quarterback. 

“I shared an opinion that is polarizing,” Rodgers said. “I get it. And I misled some people about my status, which I take full responsibility of those comments. But in the end, I have to stay true to who I am and what I’m about. And I stand behind the things that I said, and I have a ton of empathy for people who have been going through the worst part of this pandemic, which has affected all of us in different ways, but so many people with lives that were lost, lives that were forever changed. And I have a ton of compassion and empathy for those people. I’ve tried to help out as much as I can. 

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19.

“The other stuff is so outside my control, and there’s going to be people that don’t like you and hate you for things you said, or might not even understand what you said or know what you said. They might just see a headline, and that’s fine. I believe that people are entitled to their opinion, even if that’s an opinion that’s unfavorable to me.” 

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Rodgers said he expects to play Sunday when the Packers host the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. He would not rule out the possibility – a “small possibility,” he said – of missing a second straight game after being forced out last week at the Kansas City Chiefs because of his positive COVID-19 test, but Rodgers does not believe returning to the field will be an issue. 

The quarterback is eligible to return no earlier than Saturday if he is asymptomatic and cleared by an independent doctor.  

Rodgers said he would like to focus his energy on football, not his vaccination opinions. 

“I’m an athlete. I’m not an activist,” he said. “So I’m going to get back to doing what I do best, and that’s playing ball. I shared my opinion. It wasn’t one that was come to frivolously. It involved a lot of study, and what I felt like was in my best interest for my body. Further comments I’m going to keep between myself and my doctors. I don’t have any further comments about any of those things after this interview.” 

Rodgers said Sunday’s game against the Chiefs was only the third since joining the Packers that he has watched live on television from home without attending. The first, he said, came when the Packers traveled to the Seattle Seahawks after he had foot surgery in 2006. Rodgers also watched the Packers host the New Orleans Saints after surgery to repair his broken collarbone in 2017. 

He did not enjoy Sunday’s experience, with the Packers losing 13-7. Rodgers was, however, complimentary of backup Jordan Love. 

“I’m proud of Jordan,” Rodgers said. “I thought he hung in there. The only thing I told him during the week is to just trust his feet. Because he is a very athletic guy, and I thought he did a nice job of avoiding sacks, getting out of the pocket, making positive plays out of potential sacks. I might’ve gotten sacked in certain situations. He was able to elusively get out of the pocket there and have positive gains. 

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“There were nerves going, for sure. How could there not be? In a tough environment to play in, one of the loudest outdoor stadiums in the NFL, against the reigning, two-time Super Bowl representatives from the AFC. So I’m proud of the way he battled.” 

Rodgers is hoping life returns to normal soon. He referenced keeping all COVID-19 opinions private after his interview with McAfee on Tuesday, though there is still much he has not been asked. Rodgers had no direct response to his partnership with Prevea ending. He also was not asked about the NFL’s investigation into whether the Packers cut corners in the league’s protocol for Rodgers. 

In time, Rodgers said he’s looking forward to focusing on football. 

“I’m excited about feeling better,” Rodgers said. “I’m excited about moving forward and getting back with my team and doing what I do best, and that’s playing ball."

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