Rodgers: May have misled but stand by remarks

  • 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 there’s only a “small possibility” he won’t play in the Green Bay Packers’ next game but before he got into football topics, he acknowledged he may have misled people about his vaccination status — but stood by his decision — and said he hoped the reaction will be the same as always when he’s introduced at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

In his weekly appearance Tuesday on The Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers attempted to clarify some of the points he made last Friday, which drew criticism both in and out of the sports arena.

Rodgers remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list after testing positive last week, when it also was revealed that he was unvaccinated despite telling reporters in August that he had been “immunized.” The earliest he can be cleared is Saturday, one day before the Packers host the Seattle Seahawks.

“I made some comments that people might have felt were misleading,” Rodgers told McAfee. “To anybody who felt misled by those comments, I take full responsibility for those comments. I’m excited about feeling better. I’m excited about moving forward and hopefully getting back with my team and getting back to doing what I do best, and that’s playing ball. It’s been tough being away from it. I’ve been obviously dealing with the COVID, and I feel like I’m on the other side of it, thankfully, and I’m thankful to still be able to have something to look forward to this weekend, hopefully.”

While he said he feels “really good,” he acknowledged that there are some protocols and checkups that he will have to clear in order to play on Sunday.

“I just do believe there’s a health hurdle that I have to [clear] as far as like movement and sweating and getting into it, making sure my body, especially heart, is fine with physical exertion,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers said he stands by his decision not to get vaccinated for the reasons he detailed last week, including what he said was allergy to the mRNA vaccines. He reiterated that he continues to consult with many doctors and friends who have experienced COVID — and not just podcast host Joe Rogan.

But he doesn’t want to be considered an unofficial spokesperson for the unvaccinated.

“I’m an athlete; I’m not an activist,” Rodgers said. “So I’m going to get back to doing what I do best, and that’s playing ball. I shared my opinion; it wasn’t one that was come to frivolously. It involved a lot of study and what I felt like was in my best interest for my body.”

Rodgers said he doesn’t read or listen to a lot of the comments made about him in general but admitted he was aware of some of the negative reaction toward him in recent days.

“I’m human, stuff can definitely hurt your feelings,” he said. “But, look, I shared an opinion that is polarizing. I get it. And I misled some people about my status, which I take full responsibility of those comments. But, in the end, I have to stay true to who I am and what I’m about. And I stand behind the things that I said.

“I have a ton of empathy for people who have been going through the worst part of this pandemic, which has affected all of us in different ways, but so many people with, like I said, lives that were lost, lives that were forever changed, and I have a ton of compassion and empathy for those people. I have tried to help out as much as I can. The other stuff is so out of my control, and there’s going to be people that don’t like you, and hate you for things you said or might not understand what you said or know what you said and might’ve just seen a headline. And that’s fine. I believe that people are entitled to their opinion, even if it’s an opinion that’s unfavorable to me.”

The Packers’ seven-game winning streak ended on Sunday, when Jordan Love made his first NFL start. He led just one scoring drive, capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass to Allen Lazard in the fourth quarter of the 13-7 loss at Kansas City in a game that coach Matt LaFleur blamed on himself for not having a better plan to deal with the Chiefs’ pass rush.

“I’m proud of Jordan,” Rodgers said. “I thought he hung in there. The only thing I told him during the week was just to trust his feet because he is a very athletic guy. I thought he did a nice job of avoiding sacks, getting out of the pocket, making positive plays out of potential sacks. I might have got sacked in certain situations; he was able to elusively get out of the pocket there and have positive gains.”

Any involvement in game planning and preparations for the Seahawks will have to take place on Zoom until Saturday, and LaFleur on Monday acknowledged that they will have to balance preparing a plan for both Rodgers and Love.

“I have never been through this situation, so it’ll be a great learning experience for all of us, in terms of how we communicate it, how we go out there and execute it,” LaFleur said. “Certainly there could be a situation where we have some specific plays for either quarterback. But I would say by and large, you’re preparing both of them for the way you want to attack a certain defense.”

Assuming Rodgers is cleared, he said he thinks it’s the offense’s turn to be introduced in the game-by-game rotation with the defense. When asked if he thinks the reaction will be any different than in the past, Rodgers said: “I don’t know. I hope not.”

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