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The Rodgers rate

When it comes to fines given by the NFL for breaking Covid protocol, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard did seem to get the Rodgers rate, a reference to longstanding ad campaign by State Farm Insurance. That’s because Aaron Rodgers, Packers star quarterback and a protagonist in this campaign who foolishly assumes he gets the best rate on State Farm Insurance even though it seems like everyone gets the same rate, has been given the same exact fine as Lazard from the NFL for his transgressions in breaking Covid rules. Both have been fined $14,650, which isn’t going to put a significant dent in the lifestyles of either athlete, particularly Rodgers, who is in the middle of a $134 million contract. The Packers will be billed a bit more liberally for their part in this charade, a full $300,000 for not maintaining compliance of Covid policies. Since the Packers are the only publicly traded NFL franchise, this fine will technically be absorbed by their over 360,000 owners. Somehow, I think they will be okay.

This all came to light because Rodgers, still one of the League’s premier quarterbacks at age 37, recently tested positive for the virus. And it was then revealed that he wasn’t vaccinated. Which got even worse when it became clear that he had indicated to his teammates that he was vaccinated – or as he told them, he has immunity. This all led to a very uncomfortable process of Rodgers giving all the reasons he didn’t take each of the three available vaccines and why he believed he wasn’t lying when he obviously was. He’s since come back ever so slightly and has publicly admitted that he is in fact a role model, and he made some comments that perhaps some people may have believed were misleading. And that he simply has, as we all like to say, done his own research and made the best decision for himself, even if it hasn’t worked in the best interest of the Green Bay Packers.

Now, to allay all fears, here’s the good news. State Farm has stuck with Rodgers, although they have cut back on how often his commercials air. That should have happened a long time ago. Hopefully we can work on Patrick Mahomes next. We can also now acknowledge that Jeopardy didn’t make the worst possible decision ever in naming Mike Richards their new host. Because imagine if Aaron Rodgers had to introduce the topic on science and medicine?

Rodgers has taken a fair amount of well-deserved critique both for his views on modern medicine and his interpretation of truth. His perspective on the word immunity is on par with Bill Clinton’s explanation of the word is. And not for nothing, it shouldn’t have taken you this long to recognize that Aaron Rodgers is a bit, shall we say, selfish. His highly personalized contract dispute with the Packers over some perception of disrespect may be the one thing that gets average fans to root for management. But at least until now, Aaron Rodgers was something of a favorite of the common sports fan. While he may now have a new following in the QAnon base, I’m guessing this saga may take its toll on his collective marketability – especially if he has to sit out more games for something that was highly preventable.

But perhaps there’s a larger issue here. As much as Aaron Rodgers is to blame for anyone he infects and any games they lose in his absence, this could have been avoided. Right now, pretty much everyone involved in professional football up to and including the hot dog vendor has to be vaccinated. But the one group that doesn’t is players and coaches. The reason given for that is because the unions don’t want to concede any ground to management, and some professional athletes may be fearful of what they put in their bodies – although one word about that: steroids. Even with all that, over 94% of all players are vaccinated. That’s like Upper West Side numbers. Which means that the only thing keeping Aaron Rodgers from being a jerk and causing all kinds of issues for his far more responsible teammate is an inability for the League and its union to do what most universities have done months ago – grow up and enforce a mandate. And just like that, this thing could never happen again.

Sounds a lot like the rest of America, I suppose. Maybe it’s simply too much to ask for. At the very least, it seems like we all can still get the Rodgers rate.

Keith Strudler is the director of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. You can follow him on twitter at @KeithStrudler

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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