Thanks for volunteering as tribute, Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers might own Bears fans, but science owns Aaron Rodgers.

Aaron Rodgers might own Bears fans, but science owns Aaron Rodgers.
Photo: Getty Images

On Sunday, ahead of noon kickoff across the country, FOX analyst Terry Bradshaw let Aaron Rodgers have it for lying about being vaccinated for COVID back in August.


If you had Terry Bradshaw stepping in as the voice of reason on the COVID vaccine debate, turn in your bingo card, you just won 2021.

A lot of people in media have used words like “misled” or “misinformed” to describe what Rodgers did when telling the country he was “immunized” against COVID. But we’re all adults here, so we can be honest. Rodgers lied. In the sense he was asked, “immunized” meant “vaccinated,” and Rodgers knew it.

And of course, the Packers knew it. They knew Rodgers’ vaccination status. They knew he had applied to the league to be considered vaccinated and had been denied. They knew Rodgers lied about being vaccinated every time he stepped to a podium, unmasked, in a room full of reporters. They knew that Rodgers was dispensing with COVID protocols that “didn’t make sense” to him. The NFL is now investigating Rodgers and the Packers, and I’m sure justice will be done, because we all know how good the league is at making an example out of their superstars.

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Let’s set aside, as best we can for the moment, the fact that Americans are actually seeking out medical advice from Joe Rogan, a man who has zero medical or scientific credentials, like Rodgers did, and who got COVID himself, means that we’ve arrived at Idiocracy a lot sooner than we thought. Let’s also set aside the fact that a too-broad swath of Americans are getting their medical advice from Kylie on their Facebook moms yoga group, and that we’re in Year 2 of a pandemic, with no end in sight, because of it.

I’m actually not here to bury Rodgers. I’m here to thank him. He’s done wonders for my mental health.


Until now, I had a lot of undirected rage at strangers over the pandemic. Every time I saw some idiot at the grocery store proudly refusing to wear a mask, hoping that someone would tell him to put one on just so he could enlighten everyone around him by proclaiming COVID to be a hoax and that masks don’t work. Every time I got into an argument with a stranger at an apple orchard who refused to wear a mask, despite the “masks required” sign. Every time I see someone yelling at health care workers or “protesting” mask mandates on TV. I don’t know these people. So my rage over people who think the rules don’t apply to them had nowhere to go. It just sort of hovered, like a mist, in my psyche.

But Aaron Rodgers? That’s a person I know. Or at least feel like I know. He was on my TV just a few weeks ago, yelling at Chicago fans that he “owns us.” He plays for the team I hate most in the world. And he does things like calling those of us who believe in science and medicine “a woke mob,” and claims that he’s the victim of a “witch hunt,” which is every privileged man’s favorite way to tell us he feels unjustly persecuted despite the fact that witch hunts were exclusively hunting women.


All of this is to say that I’m grateful to Aaron Rodgers for exposing himself as such a galaxy-brained moron. It gives me a concrete place to direct all the rage I’ve been storing up over the course of the pandemic against all the people who put their own comfort above the good of the rest of us, all the people who “are just asking questions” about COVID vaccines, despite not even knowing what questions to ask.

Now, when I think of people who think they’re smarter than everyone else, who think the rules don’t apply to them, who think lay people have the same expertise as doctors who have spent decades studying science and medicine, I will now think of Aaron Rodgers.


I mean, Rodgers’ response to the NFL sending someone in to talk to the Packers about getting vaccinated sums up every single thing I hate about anti-vaxxers:

“They sent in a stooge early in training camp to tell us we were 19th in the league in vaccination percentage,” Rodgers said. “I challenged some of the things he was saying, and afterward, I was thanked by a lot of coaches and players.”


I’m sure you were, Aaron. I’m sure you, without any knowledge of medicine or epidemiology, brought up some really good questions and everyone was so thankful you were there. A huge pet peeve of mine is people who determine it must be sketchy, because they don’t understand how something works, instead of realizing they don’t understand how it works because they have little knowledge of the topic being discussed. Way to put that Berkeley education to good use. My God. Rodgers probably turns to Elon Musk for advice on running a fair workplace or naming children.

Lately, I’ve been reading and watching a lot of histories of the flotilla rescue at Dunkirk during the second World War, when civilians voluntarily put themselves in grave danger, in order to do their part for their country and their community, taking whatever boat they had across the English Channel to rescue the British army on the beach in France. It is such an amazing account of mass bravery and sacrifice. In America, we’ve already lost more people to COVID than World War II and Vietnam combined, and yet a huge segment of our countrymen are unwilling to do the simplest, smallest thing for their neighbors. No one is asking Americans to sail into battle with German war planes. Just get a vaccine to keep you and your community safe. And yet.


I realize that criticizing Aaron Rodgers, much like saying “hi” to Brett Favre, now means I will be cut out of his life forever. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. But Aaron, next time you want to claim to be a “critical thinker,” maybe call up the CDC or Dr. Fauci instead of your pal Rogan. Because people who actually are critical thinkers ask serious questions of experts, not their pals while playing Mario Kart. They know enough to know what they don’t know. I suspect that a decade of worship by NFL fans has skewed Rodgers’ perspective on that a bit.

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