When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we were told that if we adhered to the lockdown rules everything would be back to normal in a matter of months. But whether it was government impatience or the unwillingness of the population to follow the orders, months turned into years, and we now must get used to the fact that we are living in a “new normal.”
On top of that new normal, one other unfortunate side effect of the pandemic has been realizing just how many people you know who hold views opposite of your own. And while opposing views aren’t a bad thing in most cases, there is seriously nothing worse than finding out a friend, co-worker or God-forbid a family member is an anti-vaccine conspiracist.
That same phenomenon of the pandemic showing people close to you in a new light extends to professional athletes as well. COVID-19 has opened the door for countless examples of once-loved or admired athletes showing their true colours, whether it is Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving making Instagram posts alluding to his freedoms being infringed upon or Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown allegedly using a fake vaccine card to skirt the NFL’s COVID-19 regulations and rules.
When it comes to Brown, and a lesser extent Irving, based on their past drama, their actions and opinions surrounding the pandemic aren’t exactly a shocking revelation.
But of all the athletes who have spoken or acted out against the vaccine and COVID-19 protocols in their respective sports, the one that caused the biggest stir among sports fans was finding out Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had failed to follow the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols and would end up missing a game because of it.
While it sounds like a pretty regular occurrence, this was shocking for two reasons. The first was the announcement that he would miss their Week 9 game was made five days before the game, which for someone who is vaccinated, shouldn’t be an issue because they only need to have two negative tests within 24-hours to be eligible to play. Which brings us to Reason 2. Everybody thought Aaron Rodgers was already vaccinated, but the fact he was ruled out of the game that early meant he never was.
Making the situation worse was the fact that, not only did Rodgers straight up lie when asked if he was vaccinated by saying “yeah, I’m immunized,” when in reality he actually only took an alternative treatment to “stimulate [his] immune system to create a defence against COVID.” He also acted as if he was vaccinated. He addressed the media and attended team meetings without a mask, and he even attended a team Halloween party, all of which are strictly against the rules for unvaccinated players.
After the news broke about Rodgers’ vaccine status, things got even weirder.
While already having a reputation of being conceited and a bit of a prima donna, Rodgers decided his best course of action was to go on The Pat McAfee Show to share his side of the issue and defend himself from the “woke mob.”
At first, Rodgers acknowledged how difficult the pandemic has been on people before admitting that he realizes he may have misled people with his comments.
Despite starting the interview in a way that made it look like he regretted his actions, it soon became clear he was only looking to shift the negative spotlight off himself and on to “cancel culture.”
He started his counterattack by asking the question, “if the vaccine is so great, then how come people are still getting COVID, spreading COVID and unfortunately dying from COVID?” And much like most people who take anti-vaccine standpoints, he too missed the point. The vaccine isn’t a COVID-19 cure, it’s one part of a defence against the virus aimed at slowing the spread and protecting other people. A concept lost on many.
At the end of the interview, Rodgers even went so far as to compare himself to Martin Luther King Jr. and paraphrase his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail by saying, “you have a moral obligation to object to unjust rules and rules that make no sense. In my opinion it makes no sense for me, I test every single day.”
The difference is MLK made that comment while fighting for equal rights, while Rodgers was fighting for his own self-interest to not have to follow simple guidelines. The two are not equal, and Rodgers showed just how selfish, privileged and out-of-touch he is by comparing his struggles to those of MLK.
Unfortunately, even after this pandemic is finally over, or at least as over as it will ever be, things will never be “normal” again because whether it is a friend, family member or once-admired professional athlete or celebrity, we are going to have to deal with the fact that some people we know and love only acted out of their own self-interest.
However, I suppose, in a way it will be good to know who in our lives won’t put others before themselves when the going gets tough, even if that realization can be a tough pill to swallow right now.