Aaron Rodgers Wants COVID Debates 'Without Calling Someone Anti-Vaxxer': 'Freedom of Speech'

“When did we lose the ability to respect somebody’s opinion?” Aaron Rodgers said of the criticism he received after his comments about the COVID vaccine

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

Aaron Rodgers is hoping to see more "healthy debates" about the COVID-19 vaccine moving forward.

During a virtual appearance on the Pat McAfee Show Tuesday, the Green Bay Packers quarterback, 37, spoke about being criticized for his comments on the COVID vaccine, sharing that freedom of speech and educational debates should be encouraged more often.

"Wouldn't we all love a healthy debate," Rogers said, explaining his desire to see a debate between Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, and Dr. Peter McCullough, a cardiologist who has been criticized for spreading misinformation about COVID.

"Let's have a debate. Let's hear about sides. Wouldn't that be awesome?" the NFL star added. "When did Freedom of Speech— When did we lose the ability to respect somebody's opinion?… My thoughts [on COVID-19] are just my own opinion on this matter."

Rodgers has received a lot of public criticism since Nov. 3 when he tested positive for COVID-19 after previously stating that he had been "immunized" in August ahead of the season. Two days later, he revealed that he did not get vaccinated, claiming that he was allergic to an ingredient in the mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna) vaccines. He also said he did not want to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because he "had heard of multiple people who had had adverse events around getting the J&J."

The quarterback said that, instead, he was undergoing his own "immunization protocol," which involved taking 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.

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During Tuesday's show, Rodgers told McAfee that he made a decision that he believes was best for him and people should be respectful of that and have conversations about it before just saying he's "canceled."

"Let's have a healthy debate… We might not change our thoughts but we can't have a healthy dialogue without name calling and mud slinging and calling someone anti-vaxxers?" he said.

"How are you ever going to understand your opinion better unless you hear both sides of the argument," Rodgers continued. "And that's what I would say to those who hate on me or discredit any opinion I have on the vaccine is that I've done research on both sides."

During a previous appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers emphasized that though he's been outspoken about the COVID vaccine, he's not looking to be a spokesperson, sharing, "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."

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