Speaking on his DraftKings podcast earlier this week, former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard declared the 49ers’ upset of top-seeded Green Bay a “victory for science,” alluding to Aaron Rodgers’ surprise fall from grace, losing credibility in the eyes of many over his controversial views on the COVID vaccine.
That seemed to be a common sentiment among fans on social media, who took a collective victory lap Saturday night, dunking on Rodgers for managing just 10 points (and three after the opening drive) in a stunning loss that sent shockwaves through the NFL. Rodgers acknowledged that animosity Tuesday during his weekly appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, well aware that his polarizing, anti-vax message has put a target on his back.
“There were a ton of people tuning in, rooting against us for one reason and one reason only,” said Rodgers, who some suspect has played his final game as a Green Bay Packer. “It’s because of my vaccination status and them wanting to see us lose so they could pile on.”
The loss dropped Rodgers to 11-10 in his postseason career with four of those losses coming at the hands of his hometown 49ers, who famously passed on the Cal-Berkeley alum with the first pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. The 38-year-old isn’t sure what the future holds for him in Green Bay, though Rodgers plans to make his decision before the start of free agency out of respect for both the organization and longtime teammate Davante Adams, who could be a candidate for the franchise tag.
Rodgers made clear during his post-game press conference Saturday that he’s not interested in being part of a rebuild, cognizant the Packers’ options will be limited this offseason with Green Bay needing to shed over $40 million in cap space. Unlike his Packers predecessor Brett Favre, who arguably overstayed his welcome with forgettable late-career stints in New York and Minnesota, Rodgers says when he retires, it will be final, dismissing any possibility of returning at a later date.
Per league insider Jordan Schultz, Rodgers and Adams would “love” to team up in Denver, where Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett could be in line to replace fired coach Vic Fangio. With journeyman Teddy Bridgewater headed for free agency and draft bust Drew Lock looking ill-equipped to be an NFL starter, John Elway and the Broncos would surely welcome an upgrade at quarterback. A three-time MVP with a fourth on the way next month, Rodgers would immediately become Denver’s best quarterback since Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning.