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Opinion: Aaron Rodgers' ignorance shouldn't disqualify him from another MVP award

·5 min read
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  • Green Bay Packers
    Green Bay Packers
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  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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  • Aaron Rodgers
    Aaron Rodgers
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Saying Aaron Rodgers isn’t deserving of being the NFL MVP because he lied about being vaccinated is as stupid as the Green Bay Packers quarterback’s ill-informed “reasons” for not getting the shot.

Calling Rodgers “the biggest jerk in the league,” Hub Arkush said Tuesday that he won’t vote for Rodgers, an odds-on favorite to win his second consecutive, and fourth overall, MVP award.

“(You can’t) punish your team and your organization and your fan base the way he did and be the Most Valuable Player,” Arkush said during an appearance on Chicago’s 670 The Score.

“Has he been the most valuable on the field? Yeah, you could make that argument,” Arkush continued. “But I don’t think he is clearly that much more valuable than Jonathan Taylor or Cooper Kupp or maybe even Tom Brady. So from where I sit, the rest of it is why he’s not going to be my choice.”

Aaron Rodgers is going for his fourth career MVP award this season.
Aaron Rodgers is going for his fourth career MVP award this season.

“The rest of it” being that Rodgers lied when asked directly if he’d been vaccinated against COVID-19, saying instead that he’d been “immunized,” and has since peddled the kind of misinformation that’s usually the purview of crazy uncles, Dr. Google and that world-renowned medical resource, Facebook. Rodgers has also whined about the criticism he and his easily disproven theories have faced, using his weekly appearance on one of the country’s most popular sports talk shows to claim he’s being “canceled.”

But Arkush and others who vote for The Associated Press’ MVP award aren’t tasked with recognizing intelligence, character or even integrity. They’re asked to judge who has been the NFL’s best player this season, and there is little doubt now that that is Rodgers.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: AFC's No. 1 seed, two division crowns at stake with three wild cards still available

While it’s true Rodgers has Davante Adams, the best receiver in the game, as well as what could be the best running back duo in Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, he’s also playing behind an offensive line that has been patched together with bubble gum and rubber bands. Green Bay has used five different combinations of starters on the offensive line because Elgton Jenkins missed three games (ankle) before suffering a season-ending knee injury in November, and center Josh Myers has been sidelined since mid-October.

David Bakhtiari, an All-Pro at left tackle two of the last three seasons, hasn’t played at all this year as he recovers from a torn ACL.

Despite that, Rodgers leads the NFL with a 111.1 quarterback rating, and no one comes close to his ratio of touchdowns (35) to interceptions (four). He ranks fourth in completion percentage, at 68.6. Most importantly, the Packers have the best record in the NFL, and they’ve already clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC – along with that all-important first-round bye.

The Packers lost the one game Rodgers missed when he was out with COVID-19, to a then-struggling Kansas City. Arkush said the possibility of that loss hurting the Packers played into his thinking, bolstering his argument that Rodgers had cost his team.

That didn’t happen, though. For a second consecutive year, the NFC’s road to the Super Bowl goes through Lambeau Field.

Yes, Rodgers caught a break with the Arizona Cardinals stumbling and Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy continuing to be the master of clock mismanagement. If the Packers advance, Rodgers will be subject again to the daily testing required for unvaccinated players after the NFC Championship, meaning a positive test or being deemed a close contact could knock him out of the Super Bowl.

But it’s simplistic to the point of absurdity to use woulda, coulda, shouldas or maybes as a metric for anything, and to do so is an act of spite not conscience.

Asked Wednesday about Arkush’s comments, Rodgers called him a “bum” and said he thinks Arkush should be stripped of his vote in the future.

“I think the MVP should be about the most valuable player on the team. A lot of times, it goes to the best player on the best team. And we’re the best team,” Rodgers said. “Voters want to use the offseason or don’t like my stance of being unvaccinated, that’s their prerogative. I don’t think it’s right, but it’s their prerogative.”

Agree or disagree with Rodgers’ choice, with no NFL mandate, it remains his right to decide whether or not to get vaccinated. Far more problematic is the misinformation and conspiracy theories he’s spouted to back up his stance, and his grievances at being fact-checked are tiresome.

But none of that has anything to do with what Rodgers has done on the field this season.

This is an award for performance in a single season, not the Hall of Fame that reflects a player’s entire body of work and everything that goes with it. If MVP voters penalize Rodgers for his willful ignorance, what character flaws will become disqualifying factors next? Tantrums on the sidelines? Interaction with the media? Poor choices in the offseason or transgressions during college? It’s a slippery slope.

You can call Rodgers selfish, irresponsible, even reckless. But that doesn't mean he's not worthy of being called the MVP.

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Aaron Rodgers shouldn't lose MVP over COVID-19 vaccine ignorance