The oddsmakers love Aaron Rodgers to win his fourth MVP this season.
And now you can add Pat McAfee to the list of people ready to present the award to Rodgers for a second straight year.
During Rodgers’ weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” the boisterous host proudly proclaimed the Green Bay Packers quarterback as the league MVP already.
Rodgers isn’t so sure.
“Let’s not put the cart before the horse,” Rodgers said.
“We did last year,” McAfee confidently replied.
Rodgers said the 2020 season was different. This year, Rodgers said, “certain statuses might come into play.”
Rodgers, of course, is referring to his COVID-19 vaccination status, implying that voters won’t give him his proper due because of his off-the-field views and actions surrounding the coronavirus and his stance on not being vaccinated.
When asked this summer if he was vaccinated, Rodgers gave a misleading statement by saying he was “immunized.”
Rodgers has not been vaccinated for COVID-19 and instead in the offseason unsuccessfully petitioned the NFL’s players union to approve other homeopathic treatments he received.
He has been vocal against some of the NFL’s protocols and has spoken at length about unproven treatments for COVID-19. He had to sit out 10 days, per NFL protocols at the time of his positive test, because of his unvaccinated status and missed the Packers’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs — an eventual 13-7 loss in Jordan Love’s starting debut. He also lost his partnership with Prevea Health following his controversial interview with McAfee two days after his positive diagnosis.
But on the field, Rodgers is having an MVP-type season again, throwing for 3,977 yards and 35 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He leads the league in passer rating at 111.1.
Rodgers also has the Packers as the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs for the second straight season with one week remaining in the regular season.
On Tuesday, Rodgers offered a fun look into how he said he has embraced the Wisconsin and Green Bay culture over his career, the decision to play or not against Detroit in Week 18, how he wouldn’t want a farewell tour in response to a conversation about Ben Rothlisberger’s goodbye in Pittsburgh last night and why he feels he’s having another MVP season.
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But like they have been since his positive COVID-19 test, his interviews with McAfee continue to reference the pandemic.
In talk about his fondness for certain broadcasters over the years, he mentioned the hug he shared with Fox’s Erin Andrews on the field after the Packers defeated the Cleveland Browns on Christmas. That raised some eyebrows on social media after the two had just conducted a socially distanced interview on the field.
“I’ve known E.A. for a long time. I think the whole thing is strange,” Rodgers said about keeping their distance. But he added, “That’s my friend. I do what I’m told. … I’m a hugger. I enjoy seeing my friends postgame.”
Later asked about his connection with Allen Lazard, Rodgers said: “Off the field we definitely have gotten closer. We’ve both been in the unvaccinated category the entire year so that puts us in a separate category of workouts and rules and restrictions. So there has been more time spent together, which has been great.”
Rodgers also credited Lazard for his improvement and someone who “does all the little things” with “a healthy ego.”
Lazard missed a game earlier this season after being a close contact with Davante Adams after Adams tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the Arizona Cardinals game. Though he didn’t test positive himself, because Lazard is unvaccinated he had to quarantine for five days.
Rodgers and Lazard were fined for violating the league’s health and safety protocol this season after attending a Halloween party.
Lazard has caught three touchdowns in the last four games, including Rodgers’ record-breaking touchdown against the Browns on Christmas.
Asked about his mindset this season and how it has translated to success on the field, Rodgers said “It really comes down to, and pardon my French but giving less (expletive). It’s a maturity that comes from aging, from making mistakes, from failing, from being too sensitive at times, from taking things too personally. It’s about growth. Not to be indifferent.
“It’s about choosing what to care about and the things you care about, it’s less things. It’s caring more about specific things and less things and with those things it’s finding ways to solve those problems.”
Fittingly, Rodgers’ book recommendation this week was “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a (expletive): A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life” by Mark Manson.
“You’re not going to please everyone,” Rodgers said. “There’s always going to be the 500-pound elephant of possibly hatred and malice in whatever decision you make. You have to deal with it and be better the next time.”
So does he feel freer this season, McAfee asked?
“There’s a liberation about caring less about the things that don’t really matter in this life,” Rodgers said. In referencing the hosts of the show, and in turn himself, he said “there’s a lot of joy in being unapologetically yourself.”
Former Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk was quick to throw in that the show is about “challenging all the misinformation thrown our way,” and that “we always push back,” referencing criticism the program has faced following some of Rodgers’ appearances.
Rodgers joked: “Thanks for creating a safe space for me.”
Contact Christopher Kuhagen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ckuhagen.