November 10, 2021

Here comes Aaron Rodgers again, trying to explain his COVID-19 comments. The Packers quarterback turned to his favorite outlet — “The Pat McAfee Show” — on Tuesday to talk about the past week in which he tested positive for COVID-19 and said that he had not been vaccinated after previously telling reporters, “Yeah, I’ve been immunized.”

Rodgers told McAfee, “I made some comments that people might have felt were misleading. And to anybody who felt misled by those comments, I take full responsibility for those comments.”

So wait, it’s our fault that we felt misled? Rodgers’ comment sounded an awful lot like the sorry-if-you-were-offended apologies we so often get when someone says something stupid. Again, this isn’t about Rodgers’ decision to not get vaccinated; it’s that he lied to the media and broke some NFL protocols for unvaccinated players.

On Tuesday, Rodgers basically doubled down on his decision to not get vaccinated, saying, “I stand by what I said and the reasons why I made the decision.”

He told McAfee, “I understand that this issue, in general, is very charging to a lot of people because we are talking about public health. I totally respect that. I made a decision that was in the best interest based on consulting with my doctors. And I understand that not everybody is going to understand that necessarily. But I respect everybody’s opinion.”

Last week on McAfee’s show, Rodgers said he was in the “crosshairs of the woke mob” and felt he was a victim of cancel culture. McAfee, once again on Tuesday, handed Rodgers a megaphone to amplify his message with not a whole lot of pushback. He did ask Rodgers some direct questions about the controversy, but it was also clear that he is a former football player who is pals with Rodgers and that he is not a journalist.

Earlier this week, McAfee addressed his initial interview and the reaction to it, saying, “Overall positive. Lotta negative. And I do apologize for potentially not hammering home the science and stats like I should have, I guess a lot of people were saying. But also, there’s no way you were thinking that’s what I was gonna do. Like there’s no way anybody had that as the expectation.”

On one hand, you can understand McAfee’s point. He’s not a “60 Minutes” correspondent. He doesn’t pass himself off as a journalist. And, the point has been made by many that by merely letting Rodgers talk, McAfee actually did get Rodgers to explain (expose?) himself.

Then again, if Rodgers is going to come on and talk about vaccines and science and bring up Joe Rogan’s name, McAfee does have an obligation to push back a little. The topic is too important not to.

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
Tom Jones

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