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The Problem Is Aaron Rodgers Thinks He Has All the Answers

His interview with Pat McAfee on Friday was full of mistruths and half-truths—the words of a man who hears only what he wants to hear. The more right he claimed to be, the more wrong he was.

Well, now we know why Aaron Rodgers wanted to host Jeopardy! He is always sure he has all the answers.

Two days after testing positive for COVID-19 and being “outed” (his word) as unvaccinated, Rodgers did an interview with Pat McAfee that was a sad mixture of self-righteousness and misinformation, a man unironically countering “blatant lies that are out there about myself” with his own set of untruths and half-truths. There is a lot to discuss here, but start with this question—uttered by Rodgers. In poker terms, this is a tell:

“If the vaccine is so great, then how come people are still getting COVID and spreading COVID and unfortunately dying from COVID?”

This is every bit as ridiculous as asking, “If Aaron Rodgers is such a great quarterback, why does he throw interceptions?” or “If eating vegetables is so great, why do some vegetarians still get cancer?” Rodgers is an intelligent person. He claims to have spent many months, lots of money and more than the average lifetime’s allotment of printer paper on vaccine research, and yet he couldn’t find an answer to that?

Here it is, Aaron: COVID-19 vaccines are not 100% effective. This has been common knowledge since before the vaccines received federal approval. It was literally in the first headlines! If you get vaccinated, you can still get COVID-19. You can even still die from it. But if you do get it, the effects will probably be far less severe, and you’re less likely to transmit it to others.

When a smart person says something so stupid, you should question everything else they say on the topic. It is easy to dismiss Rodgers as dumb (he isn’t) or political (he claims not to be). His problem is likely that he is so congenitally mistrustful that once he started questioning vaccines—for whatever reason—he dove so deep into a rabbit hole that he can no longer tell a carrot from a cucumber.

Rodgers told McAfee he is taking ivermectin on the advice of his new friend, podcaster Joe Rogan (the CDC does not consider ivermectin effective in treating or preventing COVID-19), and that the “woke mob” will be disappointed to hear that after 48 hours, he feels great. I am sincerely glad he feels great, but also: So what? I once felt great just 48 hours after eating at Applebee’s. What does that have to do with anything? This is a classic and frankly simple example of using anecdotal evidence to prove a point that can be proved with only statistics; it is the height of intellectual dishonesty, even if Rodgers is gullible enough to believe it himself.

Some people get COVID-19 and show no symptoms. This has been true since the start of the pandemic, before anybody ever had the dubious idea to take ivermectin to treat it. And speaking of ivermectin: Rodgers claimed that Pfizer’s new preventative COVID-19 pill is “basically the expensive version of ivermectin,” even though that has been credibly refuted. This is a man who has decided to believe what he wants to believe, especially if it goes against the word of prominent experts.

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Rodgers said ivermectin has “been used a billion times in India. Go look at that research, what’s going on over there.” I looked at what’s going on over there: Ivermectin has been removed from India’s treatment protocols.

Rodgers was not done taking McAfee on his tour of the world. He went to Israel and cited a study that, “people who get COVID and recover have the most robust immunity.” That study has not been peer-reviewed and was possibly flawed (researchers could have missed those who tested positive and are asymptomatic), but also, it ignores the nagging issue that people who get COVID-19 sometimes die. More than 750,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. Many others have long-haul symptoms and are fighting a daily battle to live their previous lives. But hey, at least they (might) have the most robust immunity!

As anybody who has ever crossed Rodgers can tell you, when he digs in, he really digs in. He says he is allergic to two ingredients in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and that started him down this path, and once he got going, he picked up speed fast. Rodgers complained the NFL “sent in a stooge to basically shame our team.” He even said “one of the main [NFL] doctors said it’s impossible for a vaccinated person to get COVID or spread COVID,” which NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy told me was “absolutely false.” As a frequent critic of the NFL and its tendency to overreach, let me say I find Rodgers’s contention preposterous. That sounds like a conspiracy theorist hearing what he wants to hear.

Should we keep going? Why not? Rodgers did. He said unvaccinated people are “being made to think we’re the dangers, we’re the superspreaders.” This is true. It is because they are the superspreaders. They spread the virus at a higher rate than vaccinated people, and, because they are more likely to get it in the first place, the effect is exponential.

Part of being a conspiracy theorist is convincing yourself that everybody is lying and only you and those who are like-minded see what is really happening. Rodgers claimed his stance is inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., which is a disturbing form of self-validation. He also made the dishonest argument that in 2020, liberals did not believe a vaccine would be real because it would be good for then President Donald Trump. In fact, many liberals believed that Trump would lie about a vaccine right before Election Day, a concern that stemmed from Trump’s previous promises that COVID-19 was “totally under control” and that it would go away by summer.

Rodgers claimed, “I’m not some sort of anti-vaxx, flat-Earther—I’m a critical thinker,” but that view of himself is not supported by his own words. Rodgers can be so thoughtful on a lot of topics, but he bristles at anybody who he perceives is trying to put him in his place. This is why he is so focused on “a shame-based environment” and “draconian” measures—and, one imagines, why he sought out those who would confirm his perception that he was being persecuted.

Rodgers should be facing the Chiefs this weekend. Instead, he is fighting straw men. He told McAfee “to just say that [a vaccine] is a blanket for all that ails you, in my opinion, is wrong and reckless.” Of course, that is not what doctors and scientists are saying. They’re saying if more people take the vaccine, fewer people will die. It’s simple and backed by science. Rodgers also said we should focus on eating healthy instead of vaccine distribution, as though it’s one or the other.

Spreading vaccine misinformation is wrong and reckless. It is what Rodgers did Friday. The more right he claimed to be, the more wrong he was. People have died listening to the same kind of nonsense Rodgers spread Friday. And he spread it only to protect himself, his ego and his perpetual belief that the world has wronged Aaron Rodgers.