Aaron Rodgers might return to the field next Sunday when the Packers host the Seahawks (who are getting Russell Wilson back), but no matter what Rodgers does on the field going forward, his reputation will forever be linked with his actions and comments off of it this past week.
Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced out of Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs because he is unvaccinated and had to enter the mandatory 10-day quarantine period. The news that Rodgers wasn’t vaccinated came as a surprise to many, as he had previously stated he was “immunized,” but we learned that meant he had tried “alternative treatments,” which the league informed him did not change his status. Rodgers had not been following all of the NFL’s policies for unvaccinated players, and then went on to give a wild interview on the Pat McAfee Show in which he spouted off a lot of vaccine misinformation and claimed he got advice from Joe Rogan rather than doctors.
Many have taken Rodgers to task over the past few days, including Terry Bradshaw, Saturday Night Live, and Howard Stern, but no one more thoroughly picked apart Rodgers than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who published a piece to his Substack on Monday that took the time to point out all the lies Rodgers spread in his interview with McAfee. It’s a worthwhile read in full, as he provides numerous citations to actual scientific studies that debunk Rodgers’ claims, but, like many of us, the part where Rodgers said he took his advice from Rogan had Kareem hung up.
Instead of consulting immunologists, he consulted anti-vaxxer and podcast host Joe Rogan, who also contracted the virus. If he ever requires open-heart surgery will he hand the scalpel to romance writers because they know about matters of the heart? While many who came into contact with him thought he was vaccinated, Rodgers had embarked on his own regimen to boost his “natural immunity.” He failed, as any scientist could have told him—and as they have been publicly telling us for over a year. University of Michigan microbiologist Ariangela Kozik explained that achieving “natural immunity” through these homeopathic methods is a non-starter because vaccines inform our immune system what the virus looks like so the body can build its own protection.
It is an incredible line from Abdul-Jabbar and he goes on to explain not just why these actions from Rodgers endangered himself, teammates, and others he interacted with, but also the impact things like this can have on the public’s trust in athletes as a whole, noting that Rodgers plays into the “dumb jock” narrative incredibly easily here.