Considering how poorly the Packers played against the Chiefs over the weekend, it’s no wonder they can’t wait to get reigning Most Valuable Player awardee Aaron Rodgers back from quarantine. Second-string quarterback Jordan Love was far from efficient in his absence. Perhaps at any other time, going 19 of 34 for 190 yards (and in the process claiming one touchdown and absorbing one interception) would have been excusable; after all, sophomores aren’t expected to perform admirably, no matter the skill set and declared potential. On the other hand, all eyes were on the National Football Conference North Division leaders, and, by extension, the backup under center. And, when the battlesmoke cleared, those same eyes were cast downward for a reason.
To be sure, Rodgers deserves his fair share of blame for his inability to suit up in the first place. It wasn’t that he contracted the COVID-19 virus; no one — not even the vaccinated — is free from infection. It was that he placed himself at greater risk of exposure because he “found a long-term immunization protocol to protect myself.” Which is to say he believes “the research that went into that” and which he is “proud of” trumps science; never mind that it’s actually based on misinformation predicated on taking a drug for head lice.
In a wide-ranging interview on The Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers argued that he didn’t lie when he described his vaccination status before a throng of scribes way back in August. He was asked then if he had been vaxxed, and he said “Yeah, I’ve been immunized.” As things turned out, he meant “immunized” according to his voodoo definition following extensive discussions with “now good friend” Joe Rogan, who — despite not having a medical degree alongside podcast hosting duties — prescribed “monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin, zinc, Vitamin C and [desethylhydroxychloroquine]. I feel pretty incredible.”
Well, “pretty incredible” doesn’t cut it after testing positive for the virus, and after being disingenuous on the matter. Deliberately skewing how facts are presented in order to present a favorable picture underscores Rodgers’ recognition of right from wrong. Else, why not come clean from the get-go? He’s worse than, say, the Nets’ Kyrie Irving, who at least had the courage to leave everything out in the open. Subscription to conspiracy theories and flat-earth sentiments aside, his deception most definitely put in danger those around him.
Vaccinated players are subject to less-stringent protocols by the National Football League. They don’t need to be masked during press conferences or while with a larger crowd. He afforded himself all those privileges despite knowing he should have been more circumspect — if not for himself, then for others. Instead, he brazenly flouted regulations. And because the league has been slow to react, he can’t be blamed for thinking he’s a marquee name operating under a different set of rules.
Based on the latest rumblings, the Packers are slated to be fined for their breach of safety measures. Rodgers may or may not be docked some money, as well. If reports are true, however, he’s not about to face any suspension for his willful act of disobedience. Which is just too bad. The NFL is sending all the wrong messages, and time will tell if these will bite them in the end.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.