Aaron Rodgers delves into last year’s vaccination controversy, admits duping media with “immunized”

Aaron Rodgers delves into last year’s vaccination controversy, admits duping media with “immunized”

The suddenly chatty Aaron Rodgers (maybe we can get him on PFT Live) appeared recently on the podcast hosted by the man whose name Rodgers invoked when Rodgers finally admitted last year, after contracting COVID, that he didn’t get the COVID vaccination.

While it all feels very stale at this point, given that the world has moved on from COVID, (spoiler: COVID hasn’t moved on from the world), Rodgers offers a thorough and detailed explanation to Joe Rogan about why Rodgers did what he did and, more importantly, why he didn’t do the one thing that the NFL and NFL Players Association decided that all players should do – get vaccinated.

Right or wrong, the league and the union developed a protocol that tied availability to play to vaccination. Rodgers used the proper channels to attempt to get an exemption. Rodgers said that he has an allergy to one of the ingredient in the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), and that he refused to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to blood-clotting risks. (His immunization process involved, as he explained it, diluted strand of the virus. As Rogan asked, “How are they getting a diluted strand of the virus?” As Rodgers replied, “I don’t know that exactly or want to get into that exactly, I don’t think.”) The protocol developed by the league and the union resulted in the rejection of his effort to utilize his proposed homeopathic immunization process.

His explanation in the safe space of the Rogan podcast seems extremely fair and reasonable. Rogan gave him a wide berth and a sympathetic ear. Rodgers is right, the NFL (and NFLPA) were wrong, and that’s that.

Although Rodgers did make some very good points about the joint process to which the league and union agreed, he was never confronted with specific, pointed questions about why he did what he did after his request for an exemption was rejected. He deliberately chose to act, at least in public, as if he were vaccinated. Specifically, he routinely entered a media room for press conferences without a mask, including the notorious session in August 2021, during which he uttered the words he should tattoo on the inside of his right forearm.

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“Yeah, I’ve been immunized.”

Rodgers admits that he deliberately misled the media with that phrase, playing a game of chess/checkers that would force them to: (1) notice the disconnect between vaccination and immunization; and (2) be willing to potentially rock the boat with the most powerful and sensitive individual employed by the team they cover by pressing him on his wordplay swordplay.

Here’s how Rodgers explained it to Rogan: “I’d been ready the entire time for this question, and had thought about how I wanted to answer it. And I had come to the conclusion I’m gonna say, ‘I’ve been immunized.’ And if there’s a follow-up, then talk about my process. But, [I] thought there’s a possibility that I say ‘I’m immunized,’ maybe they understand what that means, maybe they don’t. Maybe they follow up. They didn’t follow up. So then I go the season them thinking, some of them, that I was vaccinated. The only follow up they asked was basically asking me to rip on my teammates. . . . But I knew at some point if I contracted COVID or if word got out, because it’s the NFL and there’s leaks everywhere, it was possible I’d have to answer the questions. And then sure enough, I contract COVID in the beginning of November, end of October. And that’s when the shit storm hit, because now I’m a liar, I’m endangering the community, my teammates, all these people. And the, you know, attempted takedown of me and, you know, my word and my integrity began.”

That’s one hell of a verbal pretzel that Rodgers twisted for himself. He admitted that he duped reporters with semantics, and then he got pissy because people questioned “my word and my integrity” once the truth came out.

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What did he expect? He forfeited his integrity (which can be forfeited only once) by creating the impression he was vaccinated. If he’d simply told his story then, airing the various grievances he rattled off to Rogan, Rodgers would have been telling the truth, and his word and integrity would be intact. Instead, he cooked up a way to tiptoe around the truth, because he didn’t want the blowback that inevitably came in early November, when he had to finally acknowledge his decision not to be vaccinated – and when he was exposed as not having impeccable word or integrity.

Again, he makes good points. He could have made them last year. The NFL and the NFLPA worked together to pressure guys to get vaccinated. They did. But they weren’t doing it to boost their shares of Pfizer or Moderna. Their doctors had come together and decided that this was the best strategy for dealing with the pandemic in the 2021 season. And, yes, the rules created a huge incentive to get the vaccination. Michael Irvin railed on players who refused to do it, since it fundamentally affected their availability to play.

It also affected their ability to move normally within the building, and beyond it. Rodgers, with the team letting him do it, didn’t wear a mask when meeting with reporters, in an effort to further hide his true status. He went out in public, in defiance of the rules developed by the NFL and the NFLPA. He ultimately was fined for attending the team’s Halloween party.


Were the rules stupid? A good argument can be made that they were. But the NFL has plenty of stupid rules that players must follow, whether in the official rulebook or in the various policies that apply to substance abuse, PEDs, and/or personal conduct. Stupid or not, the rules need to be followed.

Rodgers tried to carve for himself a very narrow path of concealed non-compliance. He played a cat-and-mouse game with reporters who didn’t think (or dare) to ask the follow up that he hoped they wouldn’t ask. Why would they, in that moment? After all, he was in the press room without a mask. Surely, the Packers wouldn’t have let him do that if he weren’t vaccinated.

Yes, this is all old news. But Rodgers has now admitted in the most candid terms possible that he lied to everyone about his status, even if he resents being called a liar for it. And he also has provided an objectively persuasive explanation of the very great pains he took to avoid putting anything at all in his body that may be potentially toxic or harmful.

While he sat there the whole time smoking a cigar, of course.