Aaron Rodgers is not a name I am acquainted with very well, my first encounter with him on television was when he hosted Jeopardy, which surprisingly is not his usual gig. Rodgers is the star quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. This past week Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 in the midst of the NFL season and revealed he had not received a COVID-19 vaccination. This caused much controversy and backlash because Rodgers had previously said he was immunized and he had been partaking in press conferences without a mask as an unvaccinated individual in a room of vaccinated individuals.
Rodgers claims in a recent interview that he is not against the vaccine, saying, “I’m not some sort of anti-vaxx flat earther, I’m somebody who’s a critical thinker.” Furthermore, Rodgers has asserted that he has an allergy to an ingredient in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and felt unsafe getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after seeing some of the side effects.
The issue at hand here is not really about whether or not he should have gotten the vaccine, but rather how he, the NFL, and the media have dealt with this issue. Rodgers contests that “the league was fully aware of it,” which is true seeing as he was living his daily life in accordance to the rules of unvaccinated NFL players, being tested daily, wearing a mask in facilities, etc. Rogers explains that he has “followed every single protocol to a T, except for that one I just mentioned that makes no sense to me.” The rule that he is referencing here that “makes no sense” to him is that he was required to wear a mask during interview/ press conferences because he is unvaccinated. The 2 main issues lie in the fact that he did break the rules during press interviews in which he did not wear a mask, and that he had lied about being vaccinated. He may think it “makes no sense” but rules are rules, regardless of whether he thinks he has the authority to decide whether or not they are sensible.
My next step in dissecting this issue was getting the opinions of real life Green Bay Packers fans. I simply asked Fan #1 what they thought of the whole situation and they brought up an incredibly interesting point. “This brings me to my point that the NFL was aware of his status and clearly knew he was doing in person interviews since every interview is available to view on the NFL and Green Bay Packers websites. Why not say something sooner if you knew he was in violation? Why wait until he contracted COVID-19? It seems strange to me and it seems like the NFL should have stepped in sooner with fines or alert the Packers he couldn’t do in person interviews, rather than waiting until after the fact and placing all of the blame on Aaron and the Packers organization.” I completely agree that it seems very odd that the NFL and Packers knew that Rodgers was violating the rules, but waited until he tested positive for COVID-19. It’s hard to say who is to blame here when Rodgers was doing something wrong but didn’t face repercussions until everyone knew he was unvaccinated. Therein lies the issue that the NFL and Packers have also fumbled Rodgers’ reputation in not nipping this thing in the bud months ago and allowing him to continue to violate the rules without repercussions until it was public knowledge that he is unvaccinated.
Fan #2 punctuates the second issue of this debacle in saying that “I’m thankful that Aaron did the research and used his highly intelligent group of doctors and staff members that study his body to come to the conclusion that these vaccines are not in the best interest for his body. But of course the articles that I have read didn’t include that in their headlines, just that he lied about getting vaccinated.” Here is the other issue everybody! He lied and not only is being deceitful wrong, but it’s a punishable offense in this country- just ask Nixon or Clinton.
Lying has a lot of weight in public opinion and can destroy a reputation, so to me it truly ‘makes no sense’ why he would lie about his vaccination status. Rodgers has since apologized for misleading people and seems to be doing a lot of backtracking and explaining that could have been avoided. The last Packers fan’s opinion shares the sentiments of many in hearing this story. “I’m a Packers fan (well, my 1st team is the Bill, of course) and I am sending a big thumbs down to Aaron Rodgers *angry face emoji*.” A big thumbs down indeed. What we can take away from this story is not only that you shouldn’t lie to millions of people, but that it’s not just Rodgers who was deceitful, it was the Packers and the NFL as a whole, a multibillion dollar organization that has deceived us all.