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23 Jan, 2022 13:27

Vaccine holdout Rodgers savaged as Packers flame out of playoffs

The Green Bay Packers' loss to the 49ers at a frigid Lambeau Field has led to a wave of acrimony aimed at controversial QB Aaron Rodgers
Vaccine holdout Rodgers savaged as Packers flame out of playoffs

Veteran quarterback and reigning NFL MVP Rodgers, who has become central to an ongoing vaccine culture war in the United States in recent months, was unable to deliver on pre-game expectations as his team surrendered to a late San Francisco 49ers field goal to lose their NFC divisional round game by a razor-thin 13-10 margin.

The defeat was an unexpected one. Rodgers and Green Bay had been near-flawless all season, posting a 13-4 record in the regular season to secure the top seed in the playoffs – but inside a (quite literally) freezing Lambeau Field, it was instead the Californian team who raised the temperature with the late game-clinching field goal. 

And Rodgers' detractors online, of which there are many, couldn't hide their glee.

The 38-year-old has drawn flak in recent months for admitting that he was not vaccinated against Covid-19 despite previously telling reporters that he was "immunized" against the virus.

He further enflamed the debate in an appearance on Pat McAfee's radio show by listing a series of explanations for his vaccine hesitancy – a flame which later turned into an inferno when he admitted that he had sought advice from podcast host Joe Rogan as to how to best recover from a Covid diagnosis, including taking the controversial anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin.

Rodgers even caught the attention of US President Joe Biden, who told a fan in December that Rodgers should get vaccinated– prompting a vitriolic pushback from Rodgers himself.

But with Rodgers and Green Bay's season now over, several figures online couldn't help but contain their glee that the league's most prominent vaccine-hesitant star has been ushered away from prime time television.

"I guess Aaron Rodgers also got immunized against winning in the postseason," television host Skip Bayless gleefully wrote.

"Now trending: Aaron Fraudgers. Wish I'd thought of that. I've basically been calling him that for the last decade on TV. All I hear from across the debate desk on Undisputed is 'transcendent thrower of the football.' Transcendentally fraudulent," he added.

"Gotta do my own research on who I'm picking for the Super Bowl now," wrote sports reporter Richard Johnson.

"Aaron Rodgers’ playoff run thwarted by snowflakes, cancel culture strikes again," added another sports writer, Kyle Neuback, referencing the sub-zero temperatures in Wisconsin late on Saturday night.

"I guess Aaron Rodgers decided to boycott the Super Bowl after all," said another, while Andrew Johnson couldn't help but poke fun at the identity of the team who sent Rodgers and Green Bay packing.

"Another liberal city just silencing Aaron Rodgers," he said.

It will remain to be seen if we have seen the last of Rodgers in the NFL. His performances this season have shown that he still clearly has what it takes to succeed at the sport's highest level and Tom Brady, who is now in his 45th year, has greatly lifted the ceiling at to how deep into a career a successful quarterback can go.

But while Bayless and other celebrate Rodgers' misfortune, the sport as a whole will be worse off when he eventually decides to step away.

And his vaccine stance, as well as all the other controversies which perpetually hover around him, are ultimately nothing but noise.