Aaron Rodgers returned to the field on Sunday, guiding the Green Bay Packers to a 17-0 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. It wasn’t his best performance by a mile, throwing for 292 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception, but just being back in the lineup was a welcome change of pace for the reigning NFL MVP who spent last week dealing with the fallout from his infamous interview regarding vaccines.
Rodgers and the Packers were fined $300,000 last week largely due to him breaking COVID-19 protocol that requires unvaccinated players to speak to reporters virtually or while wearing a mask. Sunday, Rodgers did his post-game presser via Zoom and appeared to be more reserved than he usually is in these situations, perhaps in contrast with everything that had happened off the field.
When asked why he was “misty-eyed” after today’s game, Aaron Rodgers said: “I don’t take these things for granted, walking off the field as a winner.” pic.twitter.com/cYAFotF9xu
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) November 15, 2021
While Rodgers talked a lot about the game and how great it was to be back on the field, he also touched on what he’d come away with following the controversy surrounding his initial comments about vaccines and the “woke mob.”
“Everybody has an opinion and I understand that it’s a very polarizing issue for some individuals, but I’m just focusing on the support that I got and it was deep and wide, and greatly appreciated,” Rodgers said. “There’s always going to be criticism in this world. I don’t define myself by the criticism, but I understand it’s a part of this because this issue is definitely polarizing. But again, I’m just so deeply grateful for all the people that reached out.”
Included among them, Rodgers said, were neighbors, teammates, coaches, and even people in the organization. “Having a lot of the suits reach out and check on me was really, really special,” he said.
Now that he has been cleared to return, Rodgers will no longer have to be tested daily for COVID-19 for 90 days, and he won’t be subjected to a five-day quarantine if he is found to be in close contact with an infected person. However, that time period ends during the off-week between the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl, which means that, if the Packers make it that far, Rodgers would be in danger of missing the Super Bowl if he were found to be in close contact or tested positive at that point.
While the Packers are 8-2 and in a great position to get there, Rodgers isn’t ready to think too hard about that yet.
“I don’t really like playing the what-if games,” Rodgers said. “So what I do know is I have more than two months right now where my protocol’s not testing every single day. So that’s kind of the only thing I’m thinking about. I don’t like playing the hypothetical game. Obviously, you’d love to be playing the second weekend in February and hopefully, we’re in that position.”