Aaron Rodgers Speaks Out After His Recent COVID-19 Vaccine Claims: 'I'm an Athlete, Not an Activist'

Aaron Rodgers was back on The Pat McAfee Show to discuss his comments about the COVID-19 vaccine after he confirmed he was unvaccinated

Aaron Rodgers reflected on his recent comments about the COVID-19 vaccine and the responses that followed.

During a virtual appearance on the Pat McAfee Show Tuesday, the Green Bay Packers quarterback, 37, spoke about his comments from last Friday's episode when he confirmed that he was unvaccinated and "didn't lie" when he told the media in August that he was "immunized."

"I'm feeling better," Rodgers said at the start. "I'm feeling really good. You know, definitely fortunate to have the type of care that I've been able to have. I know it's special and it's helped me get through this better. I also know that it hasn't been like that for everybody."

For more on Aaron Rodgers and other top stories, listen below to our daily podcast on PEOPLE Every Day.

Recognizing that the ongoing pandemic has "been a tough two years for a lot of people," Rodgers said his time in quarantine is "definitely a time of a lot of reflection, time to think about a lot of things in my silence here and my quarantine inside, obviously in Green Bay and not in L.A. as was reported."

Earlier on Tuesday, Rodgers' fiancée, Shailene Woodley, denied a report that he was in Los Angeles.

Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers. Harry How/Getty

"I understand that people are suffering and this has been a really difficult time for the last two years on so many people. I think we all know individuals who have lost their lives personally, people who've lost their businesses, their livelihoods, their way of life has been altered completely. I empathize with those things and I also know how sports can be such a connector and bring people together in times of adversity," Rodgers said on Tuesday's show.

"I do realize that I am a role model to a lot of people and so I just want to start off the show by acknowledging that I made some comments that people might have felt were misleading. To anybody who felt misled by those comments, I take full responsibility for those comments," he continued. "I'm excited about feeling better. I'm excited about moving forward and hopefully getting back on my team and getting back to do what I do best — and that's playing ball. It's been tough to be away from it. I've been obviously dealing with the COVID and I feel like I'm on the other side of it thankfully and thankful to still be able to have some look forward to this weekend."

Due to the league's COVID protocols, Rodgers missed the Packers' 13-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The Packers will take on the Seattle Seahawks this upcoming Sunday. (Rodgers remains on the league's reserve/COVID-19 list for now.)

Last Friday, Rodgers told McAfee that he was allergic to an ingredient in the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), and did not want to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because, he claimed, "I had heard of multiple people who had had adverse events around getting the J&J."

Also during last week's interview, the athlete said he took ivermectin, a drug used foremost to treat or prevent parasites in animals. The FDA has not authorized or approved the drug for use in treating or preventing COVID-19, and in cases where it was taken, people have been hospitalized.

The NFL currently does not require players to be fully vaccinated against COVID, but specific mandates from teams and venues vary due to local city and state laws. The Packers do not require vaccinations at their home stadium, Lambeau Field.

"I understand that this issue, in general, is very charging to a lot of people because we're talking about public health. I totally respect that. I made a decision that was in the best interest based on consulting with my doctors," Rodgers said Tuesday. "I understand that not everybody's gonna understand that necessarily, but I respect everybody's opinion."

A study released earlier this year by the CDC found that among people who are fully vaccinated, the risk of COVID-19 infection was reduced by 91%. Additionally, the risk of infection among those who were partially vaccinated was 81% lower.

Rodgers, who detailed having conversations with a "dozen friends of mine who dealt with COVID" including Joe Rogan, also said he wants to get back to playing.

"Hate is not going to bring us out of this pandemic. It's going to be connecting and love, and I'm not going to hate on anybody that has said things about me. I believe everybody's entitled to their opinion, and I always will believe that," he said. "I think that it's a time to move forward, for me, and talk about football. I'm thankful again to be on the other side of this and to be healthy and coming out of this because not many people... there's been a number of people who haven't been able to overcome COVID so I empathize with anybody in those situations."

Later in the show, Rodgers was asked about whether or not he read any of the criticism after his previous McAfee appearance. "I stand by what I said and the reasons why I made the decision," he said about being unvaccinated. "I've been really insulated to a lot of things and on my own choosing to just go inward, be reflective, meditative and read."

Rodgers added, "I'm an athlete, I'm not an activist. So I'm going to get back to doing what I do best, and that's playing ball. I shared my opinion. It wasn't one that was come to frivolously, it involved a lot of study and what I felt like was in my best interest for my body."

As for if he will be on the field against the Seahawks on Sunday, Rodgers, who said he's been doing "some walking and some yoga," shared: "As far as I know, it's 10 days is up Saturday and I can go in the facility. Then I'll be able to play after that."

Wrapping up his appearance, Rodgers doubled down on his beliefs about staying true to himself.

"I shared an opinion that is polarizing, I get it. I misled some people about my status, which I take full responsibility for those comments. But in the end, I have to stay true to who I am and what I'm about. I stand behind the things that I said," he said.

"I have a ton of empathy for people who have been going through the worst part of this pandemic which has affected all of us in different ways. So many people with lives that were forever changed. I have a ton of compassion, empathy for those people," Rodgers shared. "The other stuff is so out of my control. There's gonna be people that don't like you and hate you for things you said, or might not even understand what you said or know what you said. You might just see a headline, and that's fine. I believe that people are entitled to their opinion, even if it's an opinion that's unfavorable. But I'm going to continue to try and be the best version of me moving forward. I'm excited about getting back on the field as soon as possible."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

Related Articles