Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers acknowledged Tuesday that he might have “misled” people about his COVID-19 vaccination status, but the All-Pro gunslinger stood by his decision not to get vaccinated.
During his weekly appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers tried to clarify some of the remarks he made Friday, which drew widespread criticism both in and out of the sports world.
Rodgers currently remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list after testing positive for the coronavirus last week, when it was also revealed that he was unvaccinated despite previously telling reporters he had been “immunized.” The earliest he can return is Saturday, one day before Green Bay hosts the Seattle Seahawks.
“I made some comments that people might have felt were misleading,” Rodgers said. “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 obviously been 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 Rodgers said he feels “really good” in his recovery from the virus, he noted that there are some protocols and checkups that he will have to clear before returning 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.
Despite the backlash, Rodgers stood by his decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, citing the reasons he detailed last week. The Pro Bowl signal-caller mentioned in last week’s interview that he has an allergy to one of the ingredients in the mRNA vaccinations.
The 37-year-old Rodgers, however, doesn’t want to be considered an unofficial spokesperson for those who don’t want to get vaccinated.
“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 also admitted that he was aware of some of the negative comments directed at 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.”
With Rodgers out of the lineup last week for the Packers’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs, backup quarterback Jordan Love made his first NFL start. Love led just one scoring drive in the Packers’ 13-7 loss at Kansas City.
Later Tuesday, ESPN and NFL Media reported that Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard each were fined $14,650 for violations of the league’s COVID-19 protocols. According to the outlets, the Packers were fined $300,000 due to the violations.
The violations included Rodgers not wearing a mask during his news conferences, along with a few isolated instances of Rodgers and Lazard failing to wear a mask inside the team facility.
The Packers were disciplined for not reporting that Rodgers and Lazard attended a Halloween party, even though it was held away from the Packers’ facility. Rodgers and Lazard violated the policy that prevents unvaccinated players from gathering in groups of more than three, which resulted in their fines.
“We respect the league’s findings and we recognize the importance of adherence to the COVID protocols to keep our team and organization safe and healthy,” Packers President Mark Murphy said in a statement. “We will continue to educate the team regarding the importance of the protocols and remain committed to operating within the protocols.”