IIn late July, as NFL players across the country dragged their wrecked bodies to pre-season camp, the Green Bay Packers posted a slow motion video Aaron Rodgers on Social Media. “Let’s do this,” the caption read, as the quarterback, tucked in a jacket tucked into relaxed jeans, slicked-back hair, and an untamed nape, walked purposefully across the parking lot. The clip was, of course, a tribute to Nicolas Cage’s performance in the 1997 classic Con Air. A few weeks later, Rodgers open He had been sent a bust of Cage’s head. The bust now sits in Rodgers’ closet, next to his shoulder pads, looking quietly as the national football MVP goes through the hard work of trying to transform himself into a figure of cross-cultural significance.
Is Rodgers the most interesting athlete in America, or is he the most annoying? For much of the 38-year-old’s career in NFL He’s now entering his eighteenth season – the question didn’t even arise. Quarters are the focal point of every football team, and are usually the only players with the star power to transcend the sport. But despite rising to prominence nearly a decade ago, leading the Packers to the Super Bowl in 2011 and garnering two NBA Player of the Year awards in 2011 and 2014, Rodgers has remained highly talented but mostly unremarkable on the American sports scene. If he was seen as anything off the field, he was a social activist. He went to the register with his support for the Enough Project, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about the use of conflicting metals in cell phone batteries. Travel to India with the Starkey Hearing Foundation to mount hearing aids on deaf children, taking a detour to see the Dalai Lama. And in 2015, after a fan broke a minute’s silence at a Packers game in honor of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris with the cry “Muslims are disgusting!” Rodgers used his post-match press conference to lash out at the fan: “It’s the kind of biased ideology that I think puts us in the position we’re in today, as a scientist,” he said.
However, in the past two years, accolades have piled up on the field (he was named MVP in 2020 and again last season) without reaping any gains for the team he leads (Green Bay reached the playoffs but failed from the Super Bowl in each of the past three seasons), Rodgers has become the sport’s most ruthless catch: the athlete who can’t be mentioned in news reports without adding the “controversial” playoffs. The clean quarterback, the avatar of the league’s “good guys”, has been turned into a symbol of national polarization. Rather than declaring seriously the moral rot of cobalt mining in Central Africa, Rodgers these days is more likely to be found on the Joe Rogan podcast or the Pat McAfee Show, Complaining about “wake up mob”. There is talk, and there is the following: talking constantly, without stopping, and mostly about yourself.
The proximate reason for this journey from progressive ally to multi-purpose cultural punching bag is, perhaps, a little disappointing, Rodgers’ views on vaccination. Last summer, Rodgers, with keen interest in the choice of words, claimed, it has been “fortified” against Covid-19; Late last year appeared In fact, he was not vaccinated against the virus (He claimed immunization based on an alternative treatment from his personal physician) He misrepresented his vaccination status to the league and his teammates, leading the NFL to fine him for violating Covid protocol. These criticisms were enough to radicalize Rodgers, turning him into the kind of self-proclaimed victim who poses at length on his own. “Abolition of the cultural casket”while doing his duty, Pushing the questionable Covid treatment Ivermectin.
However, in a trademark move, Rodgers attempted to rise above the fray, even as he continued to fan the flames of cultural discontent. “I can honestly say to my critics and haters, I have no bitterness toward you, I have nothing but love and appreciation for what you are in your life and all the different feelings that influence our personalities and our decision-making and our belief system on a daily basis,” he told Pat McAfee last week.
McAfee, a former football player and wrestling commentator, whose radio show, also live on YouTube, regularly features extended and free-form talks with Rodgers, has become a particularly important ally of the Packers star. Rodgers now holds a niche in the media that has solidified around characters like McAfee, Rogan (perhaps the most self-described character) Vaccine skeptics), and Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports—kind of inspiring the brothers. The characteristic gesture of this world, and what distinguishes it from earlier iterations of fratboy modes, is that it purports to embrace, rather than reject, thought and emotion, this whole messy act of possessing thoughts and feelings; Rodgers often talks about his love of reading (the only two places he goes in Green Bay, he said recently, are “the grocery store and Barnes & Noble”), and presents his rejection of vaccination as a triumph of intellectual will, as the result of research and deep thought. But someone who really loves books probably won’t spend much time telling McAfee how much he likes books. They will be home reading.
It’s essential for Rodgers legend to see him not just as a fighter, but as someone with a rich inner life: the reason he’s able to do so on the field is because he spent so much time “working on himself”. Rodgers didn’t make it easy: a high school quarterback, famous for being rejected by every top-tier college football program (although the University of Illinois offered him a place as a walking distance), only getting a transfer to UCLA through the Community College Network . He grew up in a religious family in Chico, Northern California. Later he refused organized religion. Throughout his life, Rodgers has maintained an impressive commitment to doing things his own way, and to searching for his own truth. However, he is now a stunningly wealthy professional athlete – he recently signed a three-year, $150 million contract that will keep him on the Packers team in his forties, enough to cash in on his career earnings. Almost half a billion dollars By the time he retired.
With this success came a kind of tacky self-obsession. In July, Rodgers shared a Photo Of his first tattoo, which sounds like the kind of thing you would come up with if you were a conspiracy theorist and wanted to start an accounting firm, she told his 2 million Instagram followers: “There’s a deep, meaningful story and connection to both of them that’s ever been an element in this piece of art, I will share more on that one day.”
Rodgers was also candid About using ayahuasca: He has descended twice now upon the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu and then drank the psychedelic, forming an improbable spiritual connection between the Sacred Valley and the Lampo Field. Rodgers claims that ayahuasca has opened his mind (“It changes the way you look at the world, you feel more connected”) and made him enjoy football again. These two trips to Peru reprioritized his own need for “self-love” (“Love myself. Period. Period. Period.”), a point Rodgers recently made at length in an interview With Aubrey Marcus, who describes himself as an “author, podcast producer, entrepreneur, filmmaker, philosopher, poet, and husband” who is also the founder of good lucka “global disruptive brand” based on a “holistic health philosophy” called “holistic human improvement”.
No matter how harsh his relationship with the seller of this variety (how long until we get Aaron Rodgers’ endorsed nootropic?), “Total Human Optimization” provides an accurate summary of what Rodgers seems to be going through. The man seems to be desperately searching for something, anything, to make himself interesting, to show us that he is much more than just an athlete. He looked at me, seemed to be telling, appreciating the deep, non-spherical mind within this hero’s body.
At the same time, Rodgers tried to market himself as a kind of everyone. There was the mission Last year’s guest on Jeopardy!, which led to sensational calls for him to become the Game Show Champion after Alex Trebek. There’s the ridiculous mustache he’s been wearing for a few years (crazy man!). There’s a heavy social media feed on golf clips and memes from the office, and it’s the pop culture equivalent of burgers and fries. Then, of course, there are attempts at entertaining audiences internet comedy, like the pre-season video. To be clear, there’s definitely something lame about a 38-year-old man hunting for likes with a Con Air parody video. Nicolas Cage’s satirical tribute is perhaps the deadliest joke on the internet. Perhaps this is simply what it means to be contradictory, to live a life against the tide, to reject tradition and despise fashion: perhaps there is a special courage – that of an elite athlete – that comes from middle age in our year. lord 2022 and download Harlem Shake.
But this is Rodgers’ method: self-disclosure in the service of maximum exposure. Things have been calmer for the NFL since the traumas of the Trump and Kaepernick years: Players’ refusal to stand for the national anthem or accept the dominance of the police state no longer attracts national news. But the tensions at the heart of the NFL remain. Rodgers, who expressed public support for Kaepernick and Defend the players who sang the national anthem (While we also affirm, in the distinctive thread of needle, that we “love, support, and value the troops”), he offers a kind of reconciliation to the competing camps in a torn league between conservatives and progressives. A warrior in both the field and culture, a fan of individual rights who wants the team to work too, a footballer with feelings, a winner with a sense of humor, a jock who fantasizes about himself as a skilled person, Rodgers presents the third – a paradoxical “questioning” way, where everyone can They find a vast home for their inner contradictions. He wears the face of reason while shouting nonsense – a hero the whole of America can stand behind.