Rodgers Redux: How Aaron Rodgers and Shailene Woodley’s Post-Vax Debacle Comments Made Things Worse

Why Do They Refuse to Understand the Consequences of Their Words?

Aaron Rodgers’ whole embarrassing “I got immunized” fuss could have just gone away if he had just brained up and admitted he’d not looked at the data closely enough, apologized for misleading the public and endangering others, and returned to the real world. The public is quick to forgive sincerely regretted mistakes because we’re all trying our best to do the right thing. And we all stumble on that path.

Instead, Rodgers tried to equivocate, hedge, and mince words in the same way that got him in trouble in the first place. And, as we all learned from Watergate, it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up that always gets you. Because that’s when the public realizes the only regret is getting caught.

Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. And repeat it Rodgers did by going on the same Pat McAfee Show on November 9 where four days earlier he had offered up his original misinformation, silly science, and lazy logic. Here’s what he said this time: “I acknowledge I am a role model to a lot of people. I made some comments that people might have felt were misleading. To anybody who felt misled by those comments, I take full responsibility.”

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Let’s unpack that:

  • Rodgers doesn’t admit that he deliberately mislead people, though there really is no other way to interpret his original statement. That’s compounding a lie with another lie.

  • He’s not apologizing for his statement. He’s blaming those who heard or read it for not understanding his intent. He’s sorry you “felt misled,” even though it’s your fault. He’s gaslighting the readers.

  • What is he taking “full responsibility” for? For going maskless when around others and putting their lives and the lives of their loved ones at risk? For deliberately breaking NFL protocols that hurt his team? Nope. He’s allowing that he may have said something that some people misinterpreted? That’s not taking any responsibility at all.

Rodgers went on to say: “I'm an athlete, not an activist. I'm going to get back to doing what I do best and that's playing ball. I shared my opinion and it wasn't one that was come to frivolously. It involved a lot of studying and what I felt like was the best interest of my body. But further comments, I am going to keep between myself and my doctors, I don't have any further comments about any of those things after this interview.”

Still unpacking:

  • He claims he’s not an activist, but whenever someone is a role model (which he acknowledged), when they do something publicly, they are actively influencing impressionable people who then act according to his model. That is activism.

  • This statement continues the widely discredited medical “studying” he talked about the first time. When all the experts tell you it’s wrong, but you persist in the course and tell the world you’re doing it, you’re engaging in activism. Unfortunately, you’re also telling those who see you as a role model that science is a crock whenever you don’t agree with it. And that you don’t have to provide any credible proof to disagree.

Rodgers went on to recommend Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic for his book club. To which Holiday diplomatically posted:

“Huge Aaron Rodgers (@aaronrodgers12) fan... Love that he's reading Stoicism and making time for philosophy in what must be a very busy life, and what is certainly a very difficult moment for him personally. Because some people have asked, I will say that the Stoic teachings on something like vaccines is pretty straightforward: You do it not only because the overwhelming evidence says that it protects you (stat from yesterday: 92% of the COVID deaths in Texas since Jan were not fully vaccinated) but because we have an obligation TO EACH OTHER. It'd be wonderful if it were otherwise, but not everyone we come in contact with is as healthy or as young as us, and that includes vaccinated people with various conditions (it also includes my kids and millions of other people's kids, who are not eligible yet.) Life, like football, is a team sport...which is why Marcus Aurelius speaks about acts for the ‘common good’ more than 80 times in his Meditations (also as a guy who died in a pandemic, I'm pretty sure he'd consider the COVID-19 vaccines a modern miracle. That's why I got mine and try to use my platform to urge others to do the same…”

Ouch! Rodgers will need some serious Stoicism after that backhanded beatdown.

Ordinarily, we should give a pass to comments made by a significant other because it’s totally understandable that someone would want to defend a loved one under attack, no matter how justified the attack is. However, when that significant other is also famous, their comments also carry significant influence. Actress Shailene Woodley has 4.6 million Instagram followers and 1 million Twitter followers so her words also have consequences. They act as justification for Rodgers’ behavior, not emotional support for her fiance.

Sadly, her posts didn’t address any of the allegations, but instead scoffed at news outlets “grasping at straws to disparage Aaron” by running photos of men who aren’t him. If she’s correct—and there’s no reason to believe she isn’t—that certainly is despicable. But that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual issues, nothing to do with his continuing to support vaccination hesitancy and the deadly consequences.

Apropos of nothing, Woodley goes on to imply Rodgers has a big penis. Yup, that’s the organ that’s important here when we’re discussing a country closing in on a million deaths and facing rampant inflation due to the economic impact of COVID-19. She had no comment about his brain.

Here’s what they both seem to ignore: People are dying every day from COVID-19. Most of them are unvaccinated. They take comfort in their refusal to get vaccinated from celebrities who also refuse. While unvaccinated, they continue to spread the virus. We don’t know who Rodgers might have infected while going maskless and unvaccinated, nor who those people might have unwittingly infected, and so on. We don’t know who might have gotten sick, who might have died.

We do know that celebrities are role models—as Rodgers acknowledged—and that when they express their opinions to millions of followers, they are affecting lives. They need to be a lot more responsible and diligent about whether they are affecting them for the better—or for worse. Rodgers had an opportunity to reclaim the trust of the public and take real responsibility for his actions and he squandered it. This time the public may not be as willing to forgive.