Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wore a broad, 28 minutes interview with an ESPN reporter this week to discuss a range of topics, from his now-infamous “immunized” comment to his belief that he’s being silenced.
He also insisted that all of his comments this season come from the unadulterated version of himself.
“I don’t want to apologize for being myself,” Kevin Van Valkenburg told reporter. “I just want to be myself”.
Rodgers spoke with Van Valkenburg by phone Thursday, two days before the Packers’ NFC divisional round playoff matchup with the 49ers. He said he agreed to the reporter’s interview request because he thought Van Valkenburg wanted to write a “hit piece” (Van Valkenburg said he sent questions to the Packers beforehand) and Rodgers wanted to counter that. The first glimpse of the tone of the interview came in the opening paragraphs of the story when Rodgers’ “Atlas Shrugged” moment was examined.
Rodgers pulled the Ayn Rand novel off his shelf during a Week 17 appearance on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” Manningcast, after the Manning brothers asked Rodgers what he was reading. The mere fact that the book appeared on the show was enough to piss people off, and Rodgers wasted no time weighing in on their reactions. He told Van Valkenburg that he had never read the book.
“It’s a book. I can read something and not have it immediately overwhelm my personal ideologies,” Rodgers said. “And that’s the problem with society, is that everything is triggering and offensive. It’s wild.”
Rodgers repeatedly played his greatest hits on how things unfold and how he and other skeptics are being “silenced” and “censored” when it comes to COVID-19 and vaccines. He also criticized President Joe Biden for his comment about the “unvaccinated pandemic” in December. All this he did while giving an interview to the self-proclaimed World Leader of Sport.
“Are they censoring terrorists or pedophiles? Criminals who have profiles on Twitter? No, they are censoring people and they are shadow-banning people who have dissenting views on vaccines,” Rodgers said. “When you censor and pariah anyone who questions what you believe in or what the main narrative is, that doesn’t make any sense.”
Rodgers’ stance on COVID and vaccines has gotten him into trouble. In August, he was asked about his vaccination status; he replied that he was “immunized” against the virus. He told Van Valkenburg that he knew the question would come and that he had been calculating for a long time how he would respond.
“I had a plan to ask that question,” Rodgers said. “It was a pseudo witch hunt: who was vaccinated, who was not. I was in a multi-month conversation that turned into an appeal process with the NFL at the time, and my appeal hinged on that exact statement. [‘immunized’]. So what I said was, No. 1, factually true. I went through a multi-immunization process. And at the end of that, I don’t know what you would call it, I would call it immunized.”
Rodgers, who routinely violated NFL protocols by not wearing a mask in postgame interviews, tested positive for COVID-19 in early November. He had to miss Green Bay’s loss at Kansas City in Week 9.