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Aaron Rodgers Sees A Vast “Medical Industrial Complex” Conspiracy Behind People Not Liking Him

12:10 PM EST on December 27, 2023

Aaron Rodgers smiles.
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers was added to the active roster of the New York Jets on Dec. 20. To make room for Rodgers, the Jets waived veteran fullback and Operation Underground Railroad enthusiast Nick Bawden, who had touched the football four times all year and was mostly hanging around for special teams duties. Bawden, whose salary was guaranteed through the end of the season, cleared waivers and returned to the Jets' practice squad. To make room for Bawden on the practice squad, the Jets cut journeyman cornerback Kalon Barnes.

Rodgers will not play this season, but he'd run out of practice time as an inactive player. The Jets decided they could get more value from Rodgers leading the scout team than they could from either Bawden chugging along on various kicking units or from Barnes giving the team another defensive back in practice. This sort of shuffling of marginal players is usually entirely non-controversial.

Because it's the Jets, it's possible to believe that literally anything they do is guided by profound confusion and motivated by priorities the description of which would cause any sane person's hair to go all white. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk assumed that Rodgers was activated by the Jets due to his own selfish desire to keep hucking a football around with his pals, and the team's unwillingness to stand up to their marquee quarterback. In an article published on Dec. 20, Florio hammers again and again that Rodgers "wants to keep practicing with the Jets" even though he cannot play, a single-mindedness that Florio says "cost a teammate his job." Three days later, when Bawden was back on the practice squad and Barnes was cut, Florio again made this the fault of Aaron Rodgers:

I’m not passing judgment. I’m just stating facts. And this is an unusual set of facts, in which an aging quarterback tore an Achilles tendon in Week 1, accelerated his rehab in the hopes of playing again this year, returned to practice, ultimately won’t be playing in large part because there’s no chance at making it to the playoffs, but still wants to practice for the final weeks of the season.

Will it make him better suited to thrive in 2024? Who knows? Regardless, whatever Aaron wants, Aaron gets. He wanted to keep practicing, and the Jets weren’t about to say “no” to the guy who gave back more than $30 million in salary over 2023 and 2024.

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk

This turned out to have been the wrong read on the situation. Rodgers in fact resisted activation, on the grounds that it would cost a teammate a job, but was overruled by Saleh and Jets general manager Joe Douglas. Florio spent a portion of his evening on Dec. 23 walking back his earlier mischaracterization of events, after being corrected by "a source with direct knowledge of the situation." Rodgers expected to go to injured reserve but his bosses had other ideas.

Rodgers was asked about all this during his regular Tuesday appearance on ESPN's Pat McAfee Show. It will perhaps surprise no one to learn that the person Rodgers holds accountable for all this is immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci.

"I think what we should do, Pat, is, the same people who are criticizing me, or coming up with these conspiracies about my injury or whatever, before they talk, let's go back to 2021 and let's just, let's make people say their vax status, to start. That'll frame all these comments in the right window. Let's have them say, 'Hey, I'm so-and-so, double-vaxxed with Pfizer and triple-boosted, and my opinion about this is, this guy's a bad guy because he just wanted to practice, and took money away.' Then at least you'd know, and everybody could know at that point, that they have their puppet masters, who are puppeteering them to say this certain thing about this guy, and that they're still upset about the fact that I believe in medical freedom."

Aaron Rodgers

"They're still mad that I'm COVID MVP," said Rodgers, interrupting an awkward attempt by McAfee to gently distance himself from his guest's specific comments while congratulating him for making them. "Not just the two MVPs that I won but also because I didn't bow down to the medical industrial complex and the mass-formation psychosis."

Hey, I'm Chris Thompson, double-vaxxed with Pfizer and triple-boosted, and my opinion about this is: It's dumb to get mad at a player for being added to the active roster, and even dumber to do blogs about it before you have taken the time to fully understand the situation. But also, Aaron Rodgers is a swirly-eyed paranoiac weirdo. If I were standing near him at a party I would nod and go "wow, whew" but I would be edging away from him as urgently as is permitted by standards of decorum. Or would that be the work of my puppet masters? Oh god!

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