Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been able to share his opinions on “The Pat McAfee Show” for a few weeks when his weekly appearances ended for the season last month following the controversy with late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.
That doesn’t mean the New York Jets quarterback has gone silent. He’s gone to another friend and podcast to dive into a bevy of topics: “The Joe Rogan Experience.” His episode dropped on Spotify Wednesday.
For over two hours, the four-time NFL MVP, whose positions about current events and conspiracies have been in the open in recent years, and the popular-yet-controversial podcast host provided their takes on the world’s problems.
One subject they touched on, not surprisingly, was COVID-19. And Rodgers, again, claimed he won’t be quiet about the topic.
For over three years, Rodgers’ views on COVID-19 and vaccines have been central to his message when he’s not on the football field.
“I’m going to continue talking about this because it’s important to me,” Rodgers told Rogan. “I don’t want the memories to be lost. I don’t want what I went through to get brushed over. And also I don’t give a (expletive).”
Rodgers said his opinions about the pandemic have cost him.
“Look at my situation, I lost friends, allies in the media, millions of dollars in sponsorship because I talked about what worked for me in my own beliefs and my own health reasons why I didn’t get vaccinated,” Rodgers told Rogan.
What’s Rodgers’ connection to Rogan and how has he expressed his views about COVID-19 in recent years? Here’s a recap and how it weaved into his lengthy chat with Rogan:
Aaron Rodgers and the COVID-19 pandemic
Rodgers, of course, first drew a firestorm of attention during the 2021 NFL season for his positions around COVID-19. It dates to when he insinuated he was vaccinated during a Green Bay Packers training camp press conference after he said he was “immunized.”
However, his actual vaccination status didn’t come to light until his positive diagnosis in November 2021 since there were different thresholds for unvaccinated players in returning to play.
He then went on McAfee’s show a few days later and started to unload on the NFL for what he called its “draconian” health and safety protocols that year, “woke culture,” revealed that he sent the league a 500-page report on why he should have been considered vaccinated due to his homeopathic treatments, and said there was a witch hunt for unvaccinated players.
In the years since, Rodgers has championed other athletes who have been against the vaccine and recently has been vocal about Dr. Anthony Fauci and Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chiefs tight end who has advocated for the Pfizer vaccine.
“You stand for something, you stand courageously for what you believe in or the opposite side of that is saying nothing or being a coward,” Rodgers said to Rogan. “I wasn’t willing to do that. Say whatever you want about the way I went about doing it.”
Aaron Rodgers and Joe Rogan
Rodgers first made public his friendship with Rogan on McAfee’s show days after he tested positive for COVID-19 in 2021.
He said Rogan gave him medical recommendations on treatments, which included ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that has not been authorized or approved for use in preventing or treating COVID-19 by the FDA. Rodgers again vouched for the drug during his appearance on Rogan’s show this week. Rogan has been a critic of COVID vaccines and two years ago 270 doctors called for Spotify to take action against Rogan over narratives his guests had shared about the vaccine.
Nevertheless, Rodgers praised the longform conversations that Rogan has on his podcast. Rogan’s podcast is the most-listened to podcast on Spotify the last three years and he recently signed a new multimillion dollar deal. Besides hosting the podcast, Rogan is a longtime UFC commentator and stand-up comedian.
Rodgers claimed that people “didn’t do critical thinking” during the pandemic and alleged that “as more research comes out, there’s more papers published in very reputable scientific publications that talk about all of the things I was stumping for and talking about.” What exact scientific publications he was referring to wasn’t clear.
Aaron Rodgers and his perceptions of himself
When Rogan referred to Rodgers as a “revered athlete,” the Jets QB corrected him and said “less revered now.”
Rodgers lost his partnership with a local medical affiliate in Wisconsin in 2021 during the initial COVID controversy backlash. Despite saying he wants to stay out of politics he has essentially endorsed presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. due to their shared viewpoint on the vaccine. Rodgers often invokes the likes of Joe Biden and Donald Trump as well.
The 40-year-old wouldn’t change any of it.
“In the end, I believe what I did and what I stand for is a tough position to be in,” Rodgers said. “But I think it’s (an) important responsibility to continue to speak up and use my voice to give other people the permission to stand up as well because there’s a lot of people that believe a lot of the things that I believe in that don’t have the opportunity to do it, don’t have the courage to do it, don’t have the platform to do it in.
“I feel like I can speak for some of those people and hold the line to some of those people regardless what crosshairs that puts me in with certain media members.”
Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Kimmel
Rodgers’ and Kimmel’s long-running feud recently intensified when the Jets quarterback mentioned Kimmel’s name on McAfee’s show while discussing a soon-to-be-released list of associates of accused sex trafficker and child abuser Jeffrey Epstein.
Rodgers and Rogan ended the podcast addressing that controversy.
“That’s a big accusation that I wouldn’t make,” Rodgers said. He claimed he was taken out of context by the media with his initial statement about Kimmel.
Rodgers said he would have no problem having a conversation with Kimmel in-person.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Aaron Rodgers discusses COVID-19 beliefs on Joe Rogan podcast