In Rodgers’s latest interview — well, more like a staged appearance with questions spoon-fed by the host, Pat McAfee, a former N.F.L. punter — he trotted out a half-baked apology and claimed to take full responsibility for what he had said the week before. He also said he stood by his position on vaccines.
It’s not clear he truly understands the ripple-effect damage caused by a sports star of his magnitude sowing doubt. Physicians are the ones dealing with this calamity in real-time, and a lot of their work these days centers on convincing the reluctant that there’s one tool available to help curb the mass spread of Covid — the vaccine.
“If I can establish a rapport, I might be able to get some science, some actual facts in front of the patient,” Dr. Martin said. “But Aaron Rodgers is someone everybody knows, and he’s someone whose views are listened to. So now when I’m in front of that reluctant patient, they have these conflicting things that they’ve heard. And that’s not making this any easier.”
Is it possible to have sympathy for Rodgers and other athletes suggesting doubt about the vaccines? (Thinking of you, Kyrie Irving.) Well, sure. For all their fame, they are like the rest of us, trying to make sense of a horrific situation. Everyone is doing this while facing tsunamis of information.
We are all susceptible to being duped.
So, yes, for all the damage their vaccine-doubting views can bring, we can also spare some compassion — at least a touch, while also holding feet to the fire and expecting sports stars to think of more than themselves during the worst pandemic in a century. With fame and the sway it brings comes that responsibility.
Dr. Martin agrees.
“I’m more than willing to give him a tour of an emergency room, talk to him, and answer his questions,” he told me. Hopefully, Rodgers would listen, even though the doctor is a Minnesota Vikings fan.