GREEN BAY PACKERS

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers says 'applied medicine' has allowed him to see more clearly in his life, NFL career

Christopher Kuhagen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Over the last few years, the world has gotten to know more of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers than at the beginning of his NFL career.

Love it or hate it, Rodgers has become more of an open book — and we don't mean just with his recommendations through the "Aaron Rodgers Book Club" during his appearances on "The Pat McAfee Show."

A lot of his freeness and new mindset, he says, comes down to a question the 39-year-old pondered more lately.

"Who am I outside of the number 12 you see on the field?" Rodgers said from his California home Tuesday on McAfee's show, his go-to outlet every week during the NFL season the last three years.

And what has helped him in getting an answer?

"Applied medicine has allowed me to see clearly," Rodgers said as he chatted with McAfee for a final time following the 2022 season, while mostly discussing his NFL future throughout the hour.

Aaron Rodgers‘ future in Green Bay is unknown, but the Packers quarterback said Tuesday he has done work in recent years to make the transition to his post-NFL life easier.

Rodgers could partake in ayahuasca ritual again after deciding whether he'll play in 2023

Rodgers, of course, is referring to ayahuasca, a plant-based psychedelic, that he has turned to in recent years for helping his mental state. Before this past season while making the podcast rounds, he credited ayahuasca for his MVP seasons in 2020 and 2021. He failed to meet those standards in 2022, though he told McAfee on Tuesday he feels like he can be an MVP player in the right situation.

Rodgers, who called himself a "hippie" on Tuesday, has said that he will likely be called again to use ayahuasca, which he does in Peru since the drug is banned in the U.S. Ayahuasca, a drug that can cause someone to hallucinate, has been used for centuries for religious and therapeutic purposes in South American countries. Hallucinogens have no accepted medical uses in the U.S. Packers fans should have an answer about the 2023 season before he takes part in another ayahuasca ritual, he said.

"There won’t be another sitting and ceremony before the decision, I can tell you that," Rodgers said, laughing. "Perhaps after."

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said "applied medicine" has allowed him to see clearly about his future.

Personal and professional experiences led to Aaron Rodgers' new outlook on life

He said a number of personal and professional experiences "triggered" this response. It started in 2017 after Rodgers broke his collarbone early in the season, where for the first time, he "felt the separation from the team."

"There was some deep contemplation," Rodgers said, leading him to ask himself "who am I without football, who am I without the game?" Another injury followed during a tumultuous 2018 season. Rodgers said his calling toward "applied medicine," as he called it, has led him to look at the world differently to find "balance and contentment without football being the identity" of his life.

"I've done a lot of work to make that transition (after football) easier," said Rodgers, who just finished his 18th NFL season. "Thankful for those lessons, learning more about myself about who I am outside of number 12 for the Green Bay Packers."

Aaron Rodgers in pondering retirement and his post-NFL interests: 'a lot of other things' take his time

Rodgers added his new approach to life and career has allowed him to do "things my own way," and show "different sides of my personality highlighting that I'm not just a robotic, repeating one track single-minded, zero-balanced athlete."

Rodgers said he still finds "a lot of joy and contentment" in football but he believes he's set himself up for his post-NFL life.

"I'm also interested in a lot of other things," Rodgers said. "A lot of other things take my time. Although you might not ever fill that big competitive hole completely. Like I said, at some point the carousel stops and it's time to get off. ... you have to be ready for that."

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Aaron Rodgers says 'it pays to be immunized' when discussing COVID again with Pat McAfee

A week after his season ended short of the playoffs, Rodgers said he mostly avoided any major issues in 2022, though he fought through a broken finger he suffered against the New York Giants in London.

Then Rodgers sarcastically went back to one of his go-to topics in recent years: COVID-19.

"I avoided some of the major issues like COVID toe and some other stuff," Rodgers said with a grin. "After I went through the winter of death and survived, everything since then has been easy. I'm really thankful. Who can say they have won MVP of COVID? We had two years of COVID, and that's the years I was MVP and I dealt with COVID toe and I’m a COVID survivor. I guess it pays to be immunized."

Rodgers faced harsh backlash for implying he was vaccinated against COVID-19 during the 2021 season by saying he was "immunized." Rodgers, of course, was not vaccinated against COVID, later contracted the virus during the season and had to miss a game, was fined for violating health and safety protocols and lost a sponsor along the way for promoting the unproven treatment of ivermectin.

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