Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers returned to the field on Nov. 14 following his COVID-19 diagnosis and 10-day quarantine, as well as comments questioning the efficacy of vaccines and mandates.
Rodgers, 37, a three-time NFL Most Valuable Player, was placed on the COVID-19 and injury list earlier this month after he was diagnosed with COVID-19, the illness caused by the CCP virus. He missed last week’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs after the diagnosis.
With second-year quarterback Jordan Love replacing Rodgers, the Packers lost 13–7 to the Chiefs.
During an interview with former punter Pat McAfee on Nov. 5, Rodgers confirmed he wasn’t vaccinated against the virus and questioned the efficacy of vaccines if they allow the transmission of the virus. Peer-reviewed studies have shown that fully vaccinated individuals can spread the virus to other fully vaccinated people, although federal health officials have claimed that the vaccine protects against severe disease and hospitalization.
“I realize I’m in the crosshairs of the woke mob right now,” he said in the Nov. 5 interview, referring to numerous media reports and pundits that attacked him over his stance. “So, before my final nail gets put in my cancel culture casket, I think I would like to set the record straight on so many of the blatant lies that are out there about myself.”
Rodgers said he’s not “anti-vaxx,” but that he has “an allergy to an ingredient that’s in the mRNA vaccines.” And Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which uses an adenovirus rather than mRNA technology, has too many potential side effects, Rodgers said.
NFL rules implemented this season on COVID-19 and vaccines “are not based in science at all,” Rodgers said. “They’re purely trying to out and shame people, like needing to wear a mask at a podium when every person in the room is vaccinated and wearing a mask—makes no sense to me.”
“If you got vaccinated to protect yourself from a virus I don’t have as an unvaccinated individual, then why are you worried about anything I could give you?” Rodgers said, echoing a point critics commonly make against vaccine mandates.
About a week later, Rodgers told outlets that he took “full responsibility” for his earlier remarks, saying he was “immunized” against the virus.
“I’m an athlete. I’m not an activist. So I’m going to get back to doing what I do best, and that’s playing ball,” he said.
The NFL fined Rodgers more than $14,000 for violating the league’s virus protocols, while the Packers were fined $300,000.