Vol. 1, Issue No. 9: Stupid is as stupid does
Being the Golden Boy doesn't necessarily equate to being Boy Genius, I guess.
Kyrie Irving descended upon NBA media day from behind a laptop. He unexpectedly logged onto his personal Zoom account — the name “Kyrie Irving” appearing in the bottom left corner, just like the rest of us — and, unexpectedly, spoke to reporters. His teammates had shown up to the Brooklyn Nets’ practice facility, as scheduled. Irving, unvaccinated and proud of it, could not, and instead acted accordingly with local guidelines that still require athletes playing for the Knicks, Nets, and Warriors to be at least partially vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to play/take part in team activities in their home markets. That the Nets elected to ban Irving indefinitely from all activities, not just home games, until he’s partially vaccinated is their right, and an excellent decision to boot. But it was also beside the point on this day, when Irving, reporters hoped, might clear the air.
Sitting in what appeared to be his living room (or perhaps a den or reading room of some kind, one that, by the looks of it, was decorated by the staff of a nursing home), his keeping the lights in the room dimmed was a bit of an oxymoron. While he didn’t exactly empty his personal clip on why he wouldn’t get vaccinated, he did, at least, tell the truth.
“Honestly, I’d like to keep that stuff private. I’m a human being first. Obviously living in this public sphere it’s just a lot of questions about what’s going on in the world of Kyrie,” he said. “I think I just would love to just keep that private, handle it the right way with my team and go forward together with the plan… if anyone has any further questions about that, it’ll be the same response. I would like to keep that private, and just please respect that — my privacy.”
Well, you see… no, his privacy will not be respected because, in case it wasn’t clear, Kyrie Irving is a massively public figure. Plus, he’s a massively public figure who happens to play in one of three markets — until November 29, when Los Angeles will make it a quartet — that requires athletes to be vaccinated in order to play. And frankly, his decision to remain unvaccinated in an effort, as it would later be revealed, “to be a voice for the voiceless,” whatever that means, is impacting his team. The Nets are 5-3, but they have their shortcomings, and once the natural fatigue of the immense playmaking burdens they’ve taken on begin to impact the team’s active stars, Kevin Durant and James Harden. Brooklyn is one of the best teams in the NBA without Irving, but its ceiling is ever-so-slightly limited in his absence.
But I have to give him credit for one thing: he didn’t lie.
He was evasive in his reasoning, but not deceitful. The same goes for other athletes who have elected to play unvaccinated: Bradley Beal, Andrew Wiggins (who has now been partially vaccinated), and Michael Porter Jr., as well as NFL players like Cole Beasley and Cam Newton (who has also now been partially vaccinated). They haven’t necessarily (nor blatantly) skirted their respective league’s protocols, thus endangering their teammates, coaches, and opponents.
Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, is an inordinate case. Rodgers, if you don’t mind me saying so, f*cking sucks.
The Green Bay Packers star quarterback tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday, and as a result, will miss this Sunday’s tilt against the Kansas City Chiefs, and will see his status remain in doubt for the team’s game against the Seattle Seahawks the following week. That’s protocol, baby; he’s out for 10 days, and his mortal enemy, second-year backup Jordan Love, will start in his place.
Never mind who starts, or wins, or loses a football game. And never mind the fact that Aaron Rodgers contracted Covid-19. He’s not the first player to contract the virus, and he certainly won’t be the last. It happens at least once a week, if not once a day. It’s no longer a shock to anyone other than fantasy owners when they see that a player is out for the next week-and-a-half because they’re dealing with the somewhat unavoidable reality that has plagued us for almost two years now.
But there are ways to avoid it — masks, social distancing, and vaccines, to name a few.
And Aaron Rodgers has rejected all three.
Following the revelation that Rodgers had tested positive came the revelation that Rodgers has been unvaccinated all this time. If you were someone who believed he was, in fact, vaccinated, you were one of many who were deceived by his comments about vaccines in late August. Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette asked Rodgers, seemingly point-blank, if he was vaccinated and what his stance on vaccinations was. Rodgers responded flippantly, noting, “Yeah, I’ve been immunized.” He added, “There are guys on the team that haven’t been vaccinated. I think it’s a personal decision. I am not going to judge those guys. There are guys who have been vaccinated that contracted COVID. It is an interesting issue that I think we are going to see play out over the entire season.”
Look at us now.
You almost have to hand it to Rodgers — that he could so easily deceive the masses with such a casual, straight-laced response that made it seem almost impossible for him to be unvaccinated. The only person I’ve seen who had it right from the start is Michael Smith, who on August 27 carved up Rodgers’ “I’ve been immunized” comment like a Thanksgiving turkey, and deserves a bit of a victory lap. (Disclaimer: Michael Smith is my boss. I am not merely saying this because he pays me. He nailed it.)
Being “immunized” can mean dozens of things, and it often means different things to different people. There are some who believe that, because they’ve contracted Covid-19 before and “been fine,” they are thus immune or at least temporarily immune from contracting and spreading the disease in the future. Others believe that injecting bleach into one’s system will do the trick; I imagine their tombstones read, “Take that, ‘Rona, you couldn’t kill me ‘cause I took care of that myself!”
But Rodgers went a different route. As ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reported, “Rodgers petitioned the NFL to have an alternate treatment that he underwent before he returned to the Packers that would allow him to be considered the same as someone who received one of the approved vaccinations.” Apparently, there was a lengthy back and forth before the league decided that whatever TB-12 — or AR-12, for that matter — smoothie Rodgers wanted to conjure up in a blender wasn’t going to work for them, therefore ruling that Rodgers would still be considered unvaccinated. Great! Good cognitive reasoning on the NFL’s part. If I didn’t get the shot — two of them, in fact, with a third on the way in four short days — I would also be considered unvaccinated.
Why? BECAUSE I WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN VACCINATED BY A VACCINE IN MY ARM WHERE VACCINES TEND TO GO.
Rodgers lied and has been lying, albeit not vocally, for months since that initial press conference. Rodgers said he’d been immunized — that’s fine, and perhaps not a fib, in his mind. But he knew what he was doing when he said that, and whether or not he believed he was being deceitful is entirely beside the point. If you look back as far as the preseason, Rodgers has frequently been on the sidelines without a mask and has neglected to wear a mask to news conferences, which are conducted indoors at the Packers facility. He also recently attended an indoor Halloween party, where he went without a mask. Rodgers has reportedly complied with the league’s daily testing regimen for unvaccinated players, but it’s not clear whether or not he has traveled separately from his team to away games, nor if he had stopped eating/meeting with teammates off the field, unless masked. Those are both requirements for players who are not vaccinated.
We’re already so deep into these weeds, so let’s just keep on wading: today, Rodgers made his weekly appearance on The Pat McAfee Show to discuss, predictably, the mess he’s created for himself, and for his team. He noted that:
He is "in the crosshairs of the woke mob right now," and that “before my final nail gets put in my cancel culture casket, I'd like to set the record straight on so many of the blatant lies out there."
He is "somebody who's a critical thinker."
He did his own research (which is another way of saying, “I’m anti-vax”.)
He is concerned about vaccines causing sterility.
He feels we should be considering the following: "What about my body, my choice? What about making the best decision for my circumstance?"
He feels we should also be considering the following: "This idea that it's the pandemic of the unvaccinated, it's a just a total lie… If the vaccine is so great, then how come people are still getting covid and spreading covid?"
He "consulted a good friend of mine, Joe Rogan, and I've been doing a lot of the stuff he recommended in his podcast."
He probably caught Covid from someone who was vaccinated.
He believes he is following the advice of Martin Luther King Jr. by disobeying “unjust” rules.
He took a homeopathic treatment that “was a way to stimulate my immune system to create a defense against Covid."
As a non-vaccinated person, “the right is gonna champion me, and the left is gonna cancel me, but the whole time, I don't give a shit about either of them [...] the only desire I have is to empower people out there to take autonomy over their body."
Hi. Welcome back from the hellish trip around — and directly into — the sun that was that recap/podcast appearance. Hope you’re well.
What Rodgers has done here isn’t merely deceitful. It’s manipulative, harmful, idiotic, and concerning. That there was a legitimate contingent of people who once wanted this guy to be selected as the host of a show based solely on knowledge is now more alarming than ever, but I can also understand it. Rodgers has always appeared as respectable and likable, in large part because of how he carries himself. Even in his explanation earlier this summer, about why he and the Packers were at odds with one another over his future with the franchise, he remained even-keeled. But the facade is as misleading as it is effective. As Sally Jenkins wrote for the Washington Post, “Rodgers’s soft-speech act is not softening. It actually has a hard superficiality that leaves people feeling deflected. If he deflected any of his coaches or teammates the way he has the public, you can bet the Packers have peaked at 7-1.”
What happens next is almost as much of a question as Aaron Rodgers’ integrity on a myriad of fronts, but what we know is happening is at least something: The NFL is going to formally investigate whether or not Rodgers broke protocol — I have a guess. But there are more significant dominos at play here than what I imagine will amount to a fine, aka a slap on the wrist. Rodgers and the Packers, in their complicity, made a mockery of something that has killed three-quarters of a million people. Whether that was direct or not, I can’t say, nor can anyone because, honestly, what are we supposed to believe at this point? Kirk Cousins, a renowned dumbass, at least offered to enclose himself inside a plexiglass box during film sessions and team meetings in order to 1) remain unvaccinated, and 2) keep his teammates safe. Rodgers ran amuck on sidelines and at pressers, flashing that million-dollar grin and that dollar store Mullett for all to see and cheer on.
In the meantime, I’ll be figuring out what to do about my quarterback situation in fantasy football this week. I’m suddenly without a starter. Mine happens to be an idiot who can’t bother to stay out of his own way but just loves getting in everyone else’s.
I (somehow) find time to read a lot, watch a lot, and listen to a lot throughout my weeks here on the internet. Consumption Corner is where I’ll recommend some of the things I appreciated the most. They may be old, or they may be new, but from shows to films to books, I figure the least I can do is lend some insight into the things that make me the cultured young man that I am.
The Reading List:
Aaron Rodgers sucks and has always sucked by Drew Magary (SFGATE)
Bing bong: Knicks' success is real and could be sustainable. by Tom Ziller (Good Morning It’s Basketball)
He’s the youngest Chief in his First Nation’s history. Now he’s leading their fight against climate change. by Tik Root (Washington Post)
The book I’m ironically reading right now: Yaron Weitzman’s excellent “Tanking to the Top” chronicles “the most audacious process in the history of professional sports,” the Philadelphia 76ers journey from worst (for a long time) to first (on and off for the last few years). Weitzman is such a gifted reporter that you almost feel inserted into meetings with Sixers’ brass as he describes their efforts to improve the franchise. It’s ironic, though, given that their process is all-but blowing up in their face now that Ben Simmons has been attempting to force his way out of Philly for months. Still a great read, and the team ain’t half bad, either!
And finally… what else I’ve written lately:
Celtics bench picked the perfect night to step up big (CelticsBlog)
Where in the world did Immanuel Quickley go? (The Knicks Wall)
A goodbye tweet:
Hey. Have a great weekend, everyone. Get vaccinated if you aren’t already. I’ll see you next week.