© 2023 WYPR
WYPR 88.1 FM Baltimore WYPF 88.1 FM Frederick WYPO 106.9 FM Ocean City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

NFL's A. Rodgers puts himself, league in jeopardy over COVID policy

Aaron Rogers speaking with teammate
Aaron Rogers speaking with teammate

In every group, whether it be a family or a class or a collection of friends, there’s that one person who considers themselves smarter than the rest of the band.

You know the type: snooty, arrogant, condescending, smug. Name your adjective and he or she applies. And if you don’t know that person, there’s a chance you might be that person.

For many NFL fans, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is that guy. A Cal-Berkeley graduate, Rodgers never misses an opportunity to let reporters and fans know that he is the most brilliant guy in the room.

Often, he is. Rodgers is bright, observant and well-read. Heck, he filled in this summer as guest host on Jeopardy and was apparently under consideration for the permanent position.

But the really smart people don’t always have to remind people how smart they are. Rodgers forgot that and, as a result, has been hoisted on his own petard.

You’ve probably heard that Rodgers tested positive for COVID and had to sit out yesterday’s game with Kansas City and an anticipated showdown with another of the NFL’s great quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs.

Now, it would be one thing if Rodgers’ only transgression was a positive coronavirus showing. Plenty of NFL players have done so, including the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, who has two positive tests.

No, Rodgers’ sin was compounded when reporters went back and listened to an August press conference. There, the 17-year veteran and reigning league MVP parsed his words over his vaccination status.

When asked if he was vaccinated against the virus, Rodgers offered that he was quote immunized unquote. To the lay person, it seemed as though Rodgers had received the shots.

However, we discovered that Rodgers not only hadn’t been vaccinated, but had deliberately violated league protocols for players who are not vaccinated.

Specifically, Rodgers showed up at press conferences and at a recent Halloween party without wearing a mask, clearly flaunting NFL rules for behavior for players who have not been vaccinated.

His conduct showed a blatant disrespect for the health and safety of people with whom he comes in to daily contact.

But rather than admit to his misdoings, Rodgers retreated to the new normal for people caught doing the wrong thing: He blamed others. Rodgers accused the so-called woke mob and cancel culture for his woes, rather than placing blame where it belonged: right on his broad shoulders.

Then, to compound his error, Rodgers fled to one of the predictable positions of miscreants. He invoked the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., claiming a moral obligation to object to unjust rules. King was writing at the time from a jail cell in Birmingham about the discriminatory laws of the day that enforced segregation.

To summon King’s words to compare to his own situation – one very much of his own making – Rodgers did something very much unlike him: something ridiculous.

Aaron Rodgers undoubtedly hasn’t attained the lofty heights he has in football or in the zeitgeist by being stupid.

But his decisions to elude the vaccine and to lie about it are a daily double of ignorance that will likely land him on the wrong side of history.

And that’s how I see it for this week.

Get in touch:

Twitter: @SportsAtLarge

Email: [email protected]

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.