Aaron Rodgers takes 'full responsibility' for comments about COVID-19 vaccination status

Four days after his initial comments following his positive COVID-19 test, Aaron Rodgers returned to "The Pat McAfee Show" on Tuesday.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback said he's had time to reflect on his Friday comments and acknowledged how his characterization of being “immunized” in August could be perceived as misleading.

"I understand that people are suffering, and this has been a really difficult time for the last two years on so many people," Rodgers said. "I think we all know individuals who have lost their lives personally, people who have lost their businesses, their livelihoods, their way of life has been altered completely, and I empathize with those things. And I also know how sports can be a connector and bring people together in times of adversity, and I do realize that I am a role model to a lot of people.

"So I just want to start off the show acknowledging that I made some comments that people might have felt were misleading. To anybody who felt misled by those comments, I take full responsibility for those comments. I'm excited about feeling better and I'm excited about moving forward and hopefully getting back with my team and getting back to doing what I do best, and that's playing ball. It's been tough to be away from it. I've been obviously dealing with the COVID and I feel like I'm on the other side of it thankfully, and thankful to still be able to have something to look forward to, hopefully."

Rodgers said he isn't worried about the negative opinion some have following his Friday comments, in which he explained his decision to not be vaccinated against COVID-19, decried "cancel culture" and said that he was in the "crosshairs of the woke mob."

"I think first if you find your identity in yourself and you don't find your identity in the opinions of others, then you don't need that validation and that love from other people," Rodgers said Tuesday. "You can get it from yourself. That's not being selfish, that's just learning in a healthy way (to) love yourself and respect yourself and believe in yourself. I definitely was tested, you know, by some of the comments that I heard and saw. I'm human. Stuff can definitely hurt your feelings.

"Look, I shared an opinion that is polarizing, I get it, and I misled some people about my status, which I've taken full responsibility of, those comments. But in the end, I have to stay true to who I am and what I'm about, and I stand behind the things that I said. I have a ton of empathy who have been going through the worst part of this pandemic, which has affected all of us in different ways, with so many people, like I've said, with lives that were lost, lives that were forever changed, and I have a ton of compassion, empathy for those people, and I've tried to help out as much as I can.

"The other stuff is so out of my control, and there's going to be people that don't like you and hate you for things you said or might not even understand what you said or know what you said -- it might just (be) a headline -- and that's fine. I believe that people are entitled to their opinion and even it's a thing that's unfavorable of me. But I'm going to continue to try and be the best version of me moving forward and I'm excited about getting back on the field as soon as possible."

The NFL is currently looking into COVID-19 protocol enforcement within the Packers organization. Rodgers has been seen throughout the season maskless during news conferences, which take place indoors at the Packers' facilities.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday that the league reiterated in its COVID-19 protocols that individuals who are not fully vaccinated must wear masks at all times indoors.

"This includes while giving media interviews or participating in media briefings conducted indoors either at the club facility or at the stadium on game day," per the league.

Rodgers missed the Packers' 13-7 Week 9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs following his positive test. Second-year QB Jordan Love made his first-career start in Rodgers' absence.

As an unvaccinated player, Rodgers has been required to quarantine for 10 days from the date of his positive test. The earliest he can return to the team facility is Saturday, the day before Green Bay hosts the Seattle Seahawks.

Rodgers said he expects to play this week but noted there is a "small possibility" he's not cleared through protocol.

"As far as I know, it's 10 days, and Saturday I can go into the facility and then I'll be able to play after that," Rodgers said. "I think there's a possibility (I can't play). But it's a small possibility. I just believe there's a health hurdle that I have to (clear), as far as like movement and sweating and getting into it and making sure that my body, especially heart, is fine with the physical exertion."

The reigning NFL MVP added he has no desire to be the poster boy for his vaccination status.

"I'm an athlete, I'm not an activist," Rodgers said. "So I'm going to get back to doing what I do best, and that's playing ball. I shared my opinion. It wasn't one that was come to frivolously. It involved a lot of study and what I felt was in my best interest for my body. But further comments, I'm going to keep between myself and my doctors. I don't have any further comments about any of those things after this interview."

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