Rodgers insists he didn’t lie; details vax decision

  • Covered Packers for Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1997-2013
  • Two-time Wisconsin Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers said he did not lie when discussing his immunization status, has followed almost all protocols for unvaccinated players and explained his reasoning for not getting one of the traditional COVID-19 vaccines before this season.

Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, is considered unvaccinated by the NFL and is in a 10-day minimum quarantine that will keep him out of the Green Bay Packers’ game Sunday at the Kansas City Chiefs.

In a 46-minute appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers said he’s allergic to an ingredient in two of the three approved vaccines — the ones produced by Moderna and Pfizer, known as mRNA vaccines. He confirmed that he underwent a treatment designed to raise his immunity and appealed the NFL to be considered vaccinated but lost that appeal.

“I believe strongly in bodily autonomy and the ability to make choices for your body, not to have to acquiesce to some woke culture or crazed group of individuals who say you have to do something,” Rodgers said during a lengthy rebuttal to what he suggested was misinformation reported over the last several days. “Health is not a one-size fits all for everybody and for me it involved a lot of study in the offseason.”

When asked in August whether he was vaccinated, Rodgers said, “Yeah, I’ve been immunized.”

“First of all, I didn’t lie in the initial press conference,” Rodgers said Friday. “During that time, it was a witch hunt that was going on across the league, where everybody in the media was so concerned about who was vaccinated and who wasn’t and what that meant and who was being selfish and who would talk about it, what it meant if they said it’s a personal decision and they shouldn’t have to disclose their own medical information.

“And at the time, my plan was to say that I have been immunized. It wasn’t some sort of ruse or lie. It was the truth, and I’ll get into the whole immunization in a second. But had there been a follow up to my statement that I’ve been immunized, I would have responded with this: I would have said, ‘Look, I’m not some sort of anti-vax, flat-earther. I am somebody who’s a critical thinker.'”

Rodgers, 37, said because of his allergy, the only option for one of the approved vaccines was the Johnson & Johnson shot, which he said was not comfortable taking because of reports of side effects.

He did not disclose the exact treatment plan that he underwent before he appealed to the NFL that he should qualify as vaccinated but said he’s taking Ivermectin, zinc and monoclonal treatments.

“You know, my desire to immunize myself was what was best for my body, and that’s why this is so important to me,” Rodgers said. “My medical team advising me that the danger of an adverse event [to a vaccine] was greater than the risk of getting COVID and recovering. So I made a decision that was in the best interest of my body.”

Rodgers said he had COVID symptoms on Tuesday and tested positive the next day. He did not feel well on Thursday but said he felt much better on Friday.

The Packers and the NFL have been aware of Rodgers’ status since shortly after he reported for training camp in July. He said believed he would win the appeal until, according to him, one of the doctors involved in his appeal said: “It’s impossible for a vaccinated person to get COVID or spread COVID.”

“At that point, I knew that I was definitely not going to win the appeal, and it was very shortly thereafter denied,” Rodgers said. “And we know now that information is totally false that was given to me.”

Rodgers also said the NFL sent in someone to speak to the Packers about vaccinations because at the time they were 19th among the 32 teams in vaccination rates.

“They sent in a stooge early in training camp to tell us we were 19th in the league in vaccination percentage,” Rodgers said. “I challenged some of the things he was saying and afterwards, I was thanked by a lot of coaches and players”

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Rodgers detailed the protocols he has followed as unvaccinated player, including daily testing and mask wearing around the team facility. He was not asked about his lifestyle away from Lambeau Field, where he has been photographed with multiple teammates. Protocols say unvaccinated players cannot gather away from headquarters with more than three teammates or coaches.

However, Rodgers admitted that he does not believe he should have to wear a mask during his press conference. That he hasn’t is a violation of the protocols. He said he believes it’s unnecessary for an unvaccinated player who is tested for COVID-19 daily to wear a mask in a room full of reporters who have been vaccinated and are masked.

“I have followed every single protocol to a T – minus that one I just mentioned that makes absolutely no sense to me,” Rodgers said.

The NFL has said it was reviewing whether protocols were followed.

“I have taken this very seriously,” Rodgers said. “I’m not a COVID-denier or any bulls— like that. I just wanted to make the decision that was best for my body. That’s it. I wear my mask when I go out in public. The only time I haven’t worn my mask is when I’m around all-vaccinated people. My response to those people would be like, ‘Hey, just so you know, I tested this morning negative, No. 1, and No. 2, you got vaccinated against something that you would be worried about me having, which I just told you I’m negative. To me, I can’t make any more sense than that. If I’m in public, I wear a mask. If I’m not, if I’m at my house, I’m not wearing a mask.”

Rodgers is a spokesperson for Prevea Health, a local medical care group. When asked whether Rodgers would continue in that role, Prevea sent a statement: “Our focus at this time remains steadfast on the health and safety of our patients, providers, staff and communities; as well as on our efforts to help and encourage all eligible to become vaccinated for COVID-19 for the health and safety of all.”

The earliest Rodgers could return to the Packers is Nov. 13, the day before their game against the Seattle Seahawks. Jordan Love, the Packers’ 2020 first-round pick, will start Sunday against the Chiefs.

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