The former pro football player says, "It's tough when people who don't know me assume that they do"

By Aili Nahas
August 04, 2016 08:45 AM

After a season filled with drama and heartbreak, JoJo Fletcher opens up about finding true love with Jordan Rodgers. Subscribe now for a behind-the-scenes look at how they’ve stayed solid despite all the rumors, only in PEOPLE!

His Bachelorette journey culminated with true love and a brand new fiancé in JoJo Fletcher, but for Jordan Rodgers, the hardest part of reality TV came after the cameras stopped rolling.

“It was awful,” Rodgers tells PEOPLE exclusively of the rumors that plagued him throughout the season. Issues with his integrity, family history and even ex-girlfriends abounded, as viewers continually questioned his intentions.

“It hurts because judgment and integrity are things that you build and try to maintain over a lifetime, and it just takes one person [saying something] out of malice that makes news.”

Jordan Rodgers and JoJo Fletcher
Ari Michelson

For more on The Bachelorette, including exclusive photos and updates from JoJo Fletcher, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers on the cover of PEOPLE

For his part, the former professional football player can only guess as to why so many people got the wrong idea. “Everyone likes to categorize professional athletes. For someone who plays quarterback, let alone has the name recognition (Rodgers’ brother is Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers), it’s something I’m always fighting every step of the way.”

In fact, “my entire life and career has been an uphill battle,” explains Rodgers, 27. “I lived in 13 houses growing up. We never owned a house; we didn’t have money. So when people say I’m entitled, that’s not at all true. It’s tough when people who don’t know me assume that they do.”

Still Rodgers’ focus is on “just being myself,” he says. “I definitely wasn’t on the show for fame. My goal every step of the way was to be open and honest with JoJo and let myself fall in love.”

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