- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Aaron Rodgers said Tuesday that there were “a ton of people” who were rooting against the Packers this season because of his COVID-19 vaccination status and his comments about why he chose to not get the jab.

During his weekly interview with “The Pat McAfee Show” on YouTube, Rodgers talked about his vaccine controversy, the “hatred” some have for him and his future in the NFL.

“There were a ton of people tuning in, rooting against us for one reason and one reason only, it’s because of my vaccination status,” Rodgers said. “They wanted to see us lose so they could pile one and enjoy and revel in the fact that my vaccination status was some sort of reason why we haven’t had success in the playoffs or whatever.”

After Green Bay’s 13-10 loss to San Francisco on Saturday, Rodgers was trending on Twitter for the amount of jokes — both lighthearted and vicious — about him. The jabs — no pun intended — from fans and the media have been nonstop for Rodgers since his vaccine comments in November.

“The vitriol, the hatred, to be honest I’ve been insulated from it,” Rodgers said. “Is the hatred based on the fact that I don’t have that fear? That I’ve taken responsibility for my own health? Possibly. That I don’t fall in line with the narrative? Possibly.”

The situation began when he tested positive for COVID-19, which led to reports of him being unvaccinated — a revelation that confused some who referenced Rodgers saying before the season that he was “immunized.” The quarterback then defended himself on McAfee’s show, saying the “woke mob” was making him the latest victim of “cancel culture,” before later offering a muted apology.

A few days before the team’s game against the 49ers, he told ESPN in an interview that the current administration is a “fake White House” for President Joe Biden saying COVID-19 is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” The comment came a month after Biden joked about Rodgers not being vaccinated.

“I realize that I’ve been divisive this season by my vaccination status and by my willingness to talk about it and the research I’ve done and my own opinions,” Rodgers said Tuesday. “I take accountability for that. I’ve never wanted to be a divisive, polarizing figure on this.”

“This is a pandemic of health, not of the unvaccinated.”

McAfee and co-host A.J. Hawk — a former teammate of Rodgers’ — tried to get hints from the 38-year-old quarterback about his plans for next season. Rodgers said everything is on the table, including retirement, but that he won’t think about it until he’s done with the “grieving process” of the season being over. He expects to make the decision before free agency, maybe even as early as February. 

“It’s difficult any time the season ends,” he said. “It’s abrupt. I felt like we had a special team this year to be able to make a Super Bowl run.”

He did say there’s one thing he definitely will not do, and it may be a criticism of his predecessor in Green Bay. Rodgers said he will not retire and then unretire — something Brett Favre did multiple times at the end of his career.

“I don’t have any desire to do that. That makes no sense,” Rodgers said. “I’m in a place with the Packers that’s a really good place, especially with Brian Gutekunst and the way our trust and friendship has grown where it would be a simple conversation. There isn’t going to be any weird standoff war of silence. When it comes time to make a decision, we’ll have a conversation and that’ll be that. It won’t be a long, drawn out process.”

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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