Somebody call Time magazine and tell them they can save themselves the trouble. We have found the only person who can legitimately be loved as Man of the Year.
His name is Aaron Rodgers and he quarterbacks the Green Bay Packers professional football team — when he isn’t being an amateur virologist, anyway.
See, less than a week after I wrote my last column about teammates and the importance of paying attention to the people who are lining up beside you, Rodgers tested positive for the coronavirus and was placed under the NFL’s COVID protocols.
The Packers announced he would miss last Sunday’s game and would remain ineligible to play again until this Sunday at the earliest. This triggered reporters who covered the league, because that was the process for players who were unvaccinated. But hadn’t Rodgers said he was protected?
Yes, he had been asked in August about his status and answered that he was “immunized” against the virus, but what he called “immunized” amounted to having taken alternative treatments to avoid the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Supposedly each contains an ingredient he is allergic to, and he didn’t trust the Johnson and Johnson vaccine because of possible side effects, including diminished fertility, according to some reports.
He asked the NFL to recognize his alternative treatments as meeting the standard for being considered vaccinated. The league refused.
But Rodgers — with the Packers’ compliance, it must be said — skirted major portions of the league’s guidelines for unvaccinated players, including tough mandates for wearing masks, social distancing and testing. He regularly appeared on sidelines and in press conferences with nothing covering his face.
So what did Rodgers do when it became clear that the jig was up and it was time to face the music and answer for his deceptions? He played victim.
See, he wasn’t the bad guy for lying and doing what served his own interests over the interests of the other 50-plus players on his team and the hundreds around the league who followed the COVID measures negotiated by the league and players association. No, the bad guys are the “woke mob” he said was trying to hold him accountable.
“I realize I’m in the crosshairs of the woke mob right now,” he said in a radio interview on The Pat McAfee Show. “Before my final nail gets put in my cancel-culture casket, I think I’d like to set the record straight on some of the blatant lies that are out there about myself right now.”
Rodgers said he hadn’t lied in August when he said he was immunized, and that he isn’t any kind of “sort of anti-vax, flat-earther.”
“I am a critical thinker, … I believe strongly in bodily autonomy and the ability to make choices for your body, not to have to acquiesce to some woke culture or crazed group of individuals who say you have to do something. Health is not a one-size-fits-all for everybody,” Rodgers said.
And that’s where, for me, he became the poster boy for how selfish and condescending the reaction to the pandemic has been for far too many people in this country.
Why are people who took the vaccines not critical thinkers? Do people who wear masks to protect themselves and to avoid spreading the virus to others not believe in body autonomy? How are people who have helped get us to the point where society could reopen and we can even attempt a return to normalcy the “crazed” ones?
You lied, Aaron Rodgers! You lied, and you got others to go along with your lies. You placed your teammates at risk, and you risked the health and livelihoods of every player, coach and staff member for every team in the league. Not to mention their friends and families.
Rodgers and the team could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, for his deceptions. And now other teams are ticked off at the Packers and the league not making him follow the rules everyone else has struggled with.
How dare he climb atop the pyre of victimhood, and then blame others for putting him there? How dare he insult the fans and teammates who took the vaccines that helped make this season even possible?
All because he thinks he knows more than anyone else. He and crackpot podcaster friend Joe Rogan, who gave Rodgers an ivermectin-based regimen for recovering from his illness.
Thanks to his absence, the Packers lost last week to a very beatable Kansas City Chiefs team, but Rodgers is a loser in ways that don’t show up on the scoreboard.
Terry E. Manning lives and works in Savannah, Ga. He is a Clemson graduate and worked for 20 years as a journalist. He can be reached at email@example.com.