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Aaron Rodgers wants to have it both ways on “distractions”

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Aaron Rodgers wants to have it both ways on “distractions”

In his final press conference for the 2023 season, Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a clear and unambiguous message for his team: No distractions in 2024.

Two months later, he created a major distraction, with the news that he was considering a run for United States Vice President on the Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. ticket.

“Anything that doesn’t have anything to do with winning needs to be assessed,” Rodgers said on January 8. “So anything in this building that we’re doing individually or collectively that has nothing to do with real winning needs to be assessed. . . . It’s not a half the time thing, it’s not a sometimes thing, it’s not a most of the time thing, it’s an every time thing. If you want to be a winning organization, and to put yourself in position to win championships and be competitive, everything that you do matters, and the bullshit that has nothing to do with winning needs to get out of the building. So, that’ll be the focus moving forward.”

During a Tuesday press conference, he was initially asked to explain those comments.

“I mean I addressed that, I don’t have a whole lot to say other than that,” Rodgers said. “I feel like I was pretty direct in what I said.”

Later, he received a more specific question about distractions and the fact that he considered running for Vice President and that he has espoused conspiracy theories during podcast appearances.

“I mean, I appreciate anybody’s opinion,” Rodgers said. “That’s the beauty in First Amendment in this country and free speech, where it’s positive to me, whether it’s negative. I joke about people talking about their vax status before they mention comments about me. I do that because there’s definitely people that view me under that lens, and so the comments that are made about me are usually framed in that mindset. [That’s not] a ‘sensitive’ comment or a ‘victimization’ comment, that’s just the actual truth. I respect those opinions, but those are offseason things. And those are real opportunities. Mostly podcasts with friends of mine, and the Bobby thing was a real thing. . . . Once the season starts, it’s all about football.”

OK, for starters, my vax status is “I have consistently taken the advice of the doctor in whom I have trusted my overall health care for more than a decade.” Is that acceptable?

Now that that’s out of the way, what is he talking about? Distractions don’t just happen in the building or during the season. They happen all year. His comment from January surely didn’t mean “go ahead and create all sorts of problems and distractions now, because once we show up for work, it’s all business.”

He’s trying to have it both ways. And, frankly, the distractions wouldn’t have mattered if he had decided to run for office, because he would have retired — and left the Jets hanging at quarterback.

That continues to be the most underplayed angle in his comments from Tuesday. He considered retirement. The Bobby thing was a real thing. He would have tapped out and left the Jets in a lurch, if he had decided to run.

How is that episode not a distraction? How does it not make some of the players wonder how committed he really is to the cause? Whether he’s being genuine or hypocritical when he chastises them about “bullshit that has nothing to do with winning.”

He thought about quitting on them. And he left the team in the dark while the process played out.

Besides, the prevailing reporting was that Kennedy’s major donors didn’t want Rodgers. Who knows what he would have said if he’d actually been offered the spot. (He wasn’t asked any followup questions on Tuesday.)

It’s also funny to hear Rodgers say he respects the things people say about him. In his 145-minute marathon with Tucker Carlson, Rodgers suggested at one point that “most of the people” who have attacked him are “evil” and are “beholden to Big Pharma or money or whatever it might be.” He’ll never say something like this in a press conference, where someone might actually challenge or question him. He’ll only spew that kind of poison in a safe space where the host(s) will let him do it without scrutiny.

Sorry, but if Aaron Rodgers is going to play in a bigger sandbox than football, he doesn’t get to do it on his own terms. He has said dangerous and irresponsible things regarding medicine and science. He also seems to have a borderline messiah complex, with a worldview shaped not by reality but by Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. (Seriously.)

To make that work, he needs to regard anyone who dares oppose him as someone acting at the behest of Darth Vader or Sauron.

He’s going to get into politics when he’s done playing. He has convinced himself, possibly during an ayahuasca trip, that he can defeat the Emperor or destroy the One Ring or whatever other grandiose notion he has concocted to craft the kind of legacy that he wasn’t able to fashion on the football field, while in competition with the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Patrick Mahomes.

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