Friday, January 28, 2022

Packers' Aaron Rodgers might become the NFL's Most Valuable Player, but strange dance with COVID seems to have caused his support with fans to crater


With a playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the bizarre season of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has come to a close. How bizarre was it? Rodgers is a strong candidate to be named Most Valuable Player in the National Football League. But his personal reputation might never recover from his peculiar dance with COVID-19 and related protocols, according to a recent article at CNN. Writes Dean Obeidallah in a piece titled "The spectacular rise and fall of Aaron Rodgers":

This [past] weekend, Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers did get "canceled" -- but it still wasn't by a "woke mob." Remember that the football star claimed last fall that "the woke mob" was trying to "cancel" him in response to misleading comments he'd made about his Covid-19 vaccination status, as well as for peddling unproven ways to treat the coronavirus. Yet it wasn't until Saturday night, after the San Francisco 49ers pulled off a stunning upset to beat Rodgers and his favored Packers in the NFL playoffs, that it became clear just how much public support Rodgers has lost.

The reaction to the Packers' loss on social media wasn't just from football fans, and it wasn't all about football. Much of the reaction was directed at Rodgers specifically, as evidenced by the "Bye Aaron" hashtag that trended into the next morning as people gleefully roasted the quarterback for his past comments about Covid-19. ("Guess who just got more time to 'do their own research,'" one of the more popular tweets said, mocking Rodgers' earlier statements that he'd done his own fact-finding on Covid treatments. And, of course, there were much more "colorful" remarks.)
There was one response, though, that really resonated with me. It was one of the more tasteful and thoughtful reactions directed at the Green Bay QB: "Always enjoyed watching you play and respected you as a great quarterback," the tweet read. "After this"
That's exactly how I feel about the three-time NFL MVP, who football experts note has been on the road to a fourth MVP trophy this year (one he may still receive) thanks to a remarkable on-field performance that led his team to the best record in the NFC. Rodgers' road from being one of the best-liked and most respected players in the league to being a target of derision shows how prevalent and polarizing Covid-19 misinformation has become. 

In short, Obeidallah counts himself as a longtime Rodgers fan, but after this season . . . not so much. And it has little to do with football:

The origins of this "rise and fall" began in November. That's when Rodgers found himself in a firestorm after testing positive for Covid-19. The positive test set off a chain reaction that included Rodgers publicly sharing unproven Covid treatments -- ones recommended to him by comedian Joe Rogan -- and admitting that he wasn't vaccinated against the coronavirus. Worse, it became clear that Rodgers had misled the public back in August, when he gave the impression during a press conference that he had received the vaccine. (When asked by reporters if he had been vaccinated, Rodgers responded, "Yeah, I've been immunized.")
As a fan of Rodgers, I wrote a column at the time urging him to show leadership by apologizing for past remarks and stop promoting misinformation about Covid-19. To his credit, Rodgers did a few days later take "full responsibility" for making comments about his vaccine status "that people may have felt were misleading." This entire story could've ended there.
But instead, Rodgers fumbled badly in late December by again sharing misleading information about Covid. While on a radio show, Rodgers slammed NFL protocols designed to keep players safe as unmerited, saying, "It makes no sense to me to continue to spread this narrative that nonvaccinated players are more dangerous or these superspreaders, which hasn't been proven to be true."
He added, "it's obviously not a pandemic of the unvaxxed." In reality, a CDC study last fall found that unvaccinated people were about 4.5 times more likely to be infected with Covid-19 and 10 times more likely to be hospitalized. The NFL's protocols were simply designed to save lives, not play politics.

After that, Rodgers still could not leave well enough alone:

Rodgers then poured gasoline on the fire just a few days before this weekend's game by embracing inaccurate right-wing talking points in an interview with ESPN. When asked about President Joe Biden's joking remark to a Packers fan last month that she should tell Rodgers to get the vaccine, Rodgers responded with a rant that sounded like an audition for a hosting job at Fox News.
"When the president of the United States says, 'This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,' it's because him and his constituents, which, I don't know how there are any if you watch any of his attempts at public speaking, but I guess he got 81 million votes," Rodgers said, even though there isn't anything to "guess" -- Biden did, in fact, receive 81 million votes in the 2020 election. And for bad measure, Rodgers referred to the Biden administration as the "fake White House set," which, of course, conjures up Trump's repeated use of the phrase, "fake news."
All of this helps explain the mixture of anger and glee that was directed at Rodgers from many corners of the Internet when his team lost Saturday. It didn't help in the final two times his team had the football with the game tied at 10-10, Rodgers only completed one pass of the four he threw, gaining a total of four yards -- plus he was sacked. The 49ers ended up winning 13-10, with a last-second field goal.

Even famous names from other sports have tossed heat at Rodgers. Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was one example when he took Rodgers to task in a piece at Substack:

Professional athletes have come so far from the dark days when the public saw them as perpetually partying adolescents, mean-spirited bullies, and worse: dim-wits one step above tackling dummies on the evolutionary scale. Today, many players are eloquent spokespersons as well as admirable athletes. This hard-fought change occurred gradually over decades as more and more athletes proved themselves to be passionate and articulate advocates for a better, more inclusive society.

This shift in public perception is especially important when we understand how impactful athletes are in influencing our children. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, children 10-17 years old admire famous athletes second (73 percent) only to their parents (92 percent). That’s a sacred trust not to be abused. Unfortunately, the pandemic has revealed several athletes who abuse their position and responsibility, not just to the public, but to other professional athletes’ livelihood.

That latest egregious abuser is Green Bay quarterback and three-time MVP Aaron Rodgers who directly and deliberately lied to fans and the public when he assured everyone he was “immunized,” knowing that word would be interpreted as his being vaccinated. He wasn’t vaccinated. And he got COVID-19. And he went maskless during in-person press conferences, which not only violated NFL rules, but put everyone else’s health at risk.

Did Rodgers make any effort to educate himself on a complex topic? It doesn't look like it, writes Abdul-Jabbar:

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.

Rodgers compounded his lie by adding another lie. While being interviewed about the backlash on the Pat McAfee Show, he claimed that a league doctor told him “it would be impossible for a vaccinated person to catch or spread COVID.” However, the NFL responded by saying no doctor from the league or consultants from the NFL-NFLPA communicated with the players. And if they had, they wouldn’t have given such clear misinformation, which anyone who’s read a newspaper or watched a legitimate news show would already know. No medical expert claimed the vaccine prevents getting or transmitting the virus, only that their chances of spreading it to others or developing severe symptoms themselves are significantly reduced.

What’s especially bothersome is that Aaron Rodgers didn’t just lie and threaten the health of those around him, he also damaged professional sports. Many athletes make a lot of money on product endorsements, which depends on the public’s favorable perception of athletes. In 2020, global sports sponsorship was worth about $57 billion. Yet, every time a pro athlete like Kyrie Irving (anti-vax), Henry Ruggs (speeding at 156 mph, crashing, and killing someone), Evander Kane (forging vaccination card), or Aaron Rodgers does or says something stupid, the public trust in athletes lowers and sponsors might consider avoiding players in favor of actors, pop stars, or social media influencers. Steph Curry and LeBron James don’t have to worry, but some up-and-comers might not get the same opportunities.

Rodgers starred in college at the University of California, Berkeley, long considered one of the nation's finest public universities, so he was an unlikely candidate to step into vaccine-related doo-doo. Writes Abdul-Jabbar:

Rodgers’ ignorance regarding the science of immunology brings back to life the old stereotype of the big dumb jock. His utter lack of even the most basic knowledge and logic is shocking. In an effort to defend his lying, he stated, “This idea that it’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated, it’s just a total lie … If the vaccine is so great, then how come people are still getting covid and spreading covid and, unfortunately dying of covid?” Those two statements don’t even belong together. Statistics from many sources conclude that around 97 percent of those being hospitalized or who have died in the past several months are unvaccinated. The CDC found that the unvaccinated are 11 times more likely to die than those vaccinated. If he thinks that’s a lie, what credible evidence does he have? None.

The second part of his statement that laments the vaccine isn’t that great because people are still dying and getting sick is staggeringly illogical. People are still getting COVID—like him and Joe Rogan—because they didn’t get vaccinated. Yes, some people who have been vaccinated have also caught it, but a lot fewer of them than the unvaccinated, and their symptoms are generally more mild. His logic is like someone having a debt of $50,000 and a friend offers to give them a gift of $40,000. But they complain that it isn’t the full amount so they aren’t accepting the gift.

He also claimed he was allergic to ingredients in the vaccine, but offered no proof, which may be why the NFL denied his petition for vaccine exemption. Statistically, only 21 out of two million vaccinated people had severe allergic reactions. He also expressed concern over fertility issues, even though there is a greater risk of infertility from COVID-19, which he has.

Abul-Jabbar finishes with a sobering thought:

I can’t help but think of Colin Kaepernick, who was blacklisted by the NFL for passively expressing his frustration with systemic racism—a brave act meant to help his community and save lives—while multi-millionaire Rodgers will continue to play, despite lying to the fans and his teammates and putting innocent lives in danger. Time will tell whether Rodgers will be judged by the content of his character or the strength of his throwing arm.


Anonymous said...

I thought Csl-Berkeley was supposed to turn out libs. Did Rodgers not get the memo?

legalschnauzer said...

Apparently Rodgers was a pretty good student, with plans to go to law school, and his road to the NFL was not an easy one. Some background from Wikipedia:

Despite his impressive high school record, Rodgers attracted little interest from Division I programs. In a 2011 interview with E:60, he attributed the relative lack of attention in the recruiting process to his unimposing physical stature as a high school player at 5'10" (1.78 m) and 165 lb (75 kg). Rodgers had wanted to attend Florida State and play under head coach Bobby Bowden, but was rejected.[29] He was only offered an opportunity to compete for a scholarship as a walk-on from University of Illinois.[30] He declined the invitation, and considered quitting football to play baseball instead or giving up entirely on the idea of playing in professional sports and attending law school after completing his undergraduate degree.[31]

He was then recruited to play football at Butte Community College in Oroville, a junior college about 15 miles (25 km) southeast of Chico.

Rodgers threw 26 touchdowns in his freshman season at Butte Community College,[33] leading the school to a 10–1 record, the NorCal Conference championship, and a No. 2 national ranking. While there, he was discovered by the California Golden Bears's head coach Jeff Tedford, who was recruiting Butte tight end Garrett Cross.[34] Tedford was surprised to learn that Rodgers had not been recruited earlier. Because of Rodgers' good high school scholastic record, he was eligible to transfer to the University of California, Berkeley after one year of junior college instead of the typical two.[

Anonymous said...

Internet search 'Aaron Rodgers' with 'chiropractic'...

then search 'chiropractic' with 'covid'

bonus: trying so hard to sound smart for the stupids! link

legalschnauzer said...

Rodgers clearly his not a dumb guy, and he's smart enough to have handled the covid stuff better. I can only guess that his comments are a sign of Trumpism's allure, even for people who should know better.

legalschnauzer said...

I had missed Rodgers comments re: President Biden, and those are the ones I find most offensive. He's just playing toward the "Big Lie" crowd about the election and disrespecting the office of the presidency and the guy who earned it. That makes Rodgers a lawlife, in my book.

legalschnauzer said...

Here are those comments about Biden:

"When the president of the United States says, 'This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,' it's because him and his constituents, which, I don't know how there are any if you watch any of his attempts at public speaking, but I guess he got 81 million votes," Rodgers said, even though there isn't anything to "guess" -- Biden did, in fact, receive 81 million votes in the 2020 election. And for bad measure, Rodgers referred to the Biden administration as the "fake White House set," which, of course, conjures up Trump's repeated use of the phrase, "fake news."

Anonymous said...

What is C.T.E?

legalschnauzer said...

CTE stands for Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is the term used to describe brain degeneration likely caused by repeated head traumas. CTE is a diagnosis made only at autopsy by studying sections of the brain. A number of former football players are believed to have had CTE. It tends to be found in those with history of concussions.

legalschnauzer said...

Aaron Rodgers' father is a chiropractor who supports his son's stance on vaccines. My knowledge on that is limited, but it might explain a lot.

I'm not sure why there would be a tie between chiropractic and virology. They seem to be two very different fields.

Anonymous said...

"used by NASA!"... so are toiletpaper and garbage dumpsters.