Twisting words for victory

By Sam Lucero | The Compass | November 9, 2021

Even MVPs need a penalty flag

As everyone with a beating heart and a 920 area code knows, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 3. The discouraging news for Packers fans meant that he would not play in the Nov. 7 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, a contest the Packers lost, 13-7.

Discouragement, as well as concern for Rodgers’ health, was followed by disappointment after the future Hall of Famer revealed that he not only was unvaccinated, but that he misled the public. During a press conference on Aug. 26, Rodgers stated that he was “immunized.” He said he chose to skirt the issue to avoid condemnation by fans, the media and the medical community.

While fear of backlash was a reality, so was the fact that twisting his words was wrong. 

Rodgers has demonstrated his intelligence on numerous occasions (see his 2015 Celebrity Jeopardy title), but this time he failed. 

On a sports talk show Nov. 5, Rodgers gave a thoughtful, convincing argument for not being vaccinated. He said he was allergic to an ingredient in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and was concerned about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to possible blood clotting. Had he demonstrated the same reasoning on Aug. 26, reaction might have been more sympathetic.

However, he also took the opportunity on the talk show to attack the “woke mob” and “cancel culture” for not allowing alternative treatment to count for his vaccination. His divisive words served to draw more criticism. 

“Everyone should respect his decision to try homeopathy over a coronavirus vaccine,” wrote columnist Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post. “No one can respect him for being deceitful about it.”

Rodgers’ decision to label the established medical community’s practices as part of the “woke mob” may have also been one reason Prevea Health in Green Bay decided to end its partnership with Rodgers, effective Nov. 6.

In a statement released the same day, Prevea noted that Rodgers had served as a spokesperson “supporting the health care organization’s health and wellness initiatives throughout Wisconsin since 2012.”

“Prevea Health remains deeply committed to protecting its patients, staff, providers and communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” the press release noted. “This includes encouraging and helping all eligible populations to become vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent the virus from further significantly impacting lives and livelihoods.”

Rodgers will be eligible to return from the Packers’ COVID-19 list on Saturday, Nov. 13, one day before the team plays the Seattle Seahawks. As fans across Wisconsin hold their collective breath, hoping Rodgers clears the team’s protocols, it is an opportunity for all of us to remember the power of words. When used to deceive, they can tear down relationships and careers.

In his 2021 World Communications Day message, Pope Francis spoke about words and truth, offering as an example the Word made Flesh.

“Jesus’ attractiveness to those who met him depended on the truth of his preaching; yet the effectiveness of what he said was inseparable from how he looked at others, from how he acted towards them, and even from his silence,” he said. “The disciples not only listened to his words; they watched him speak.”

May all of us do a better job of using our words to communicate with clarity and honesty.

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