The Juice: Why Aaron Rodgers Deserves the 2021 NFL MVP Amidst Media Battle


Photo by: Evan Siegle

Bruce Argall, Student of Journalism

Aaron Rodgers has given some pretty notable answers to reporter’s questions. He once told Packers fans to “R-E-L-A-X” in 2014 after a 1-2 start, and they ended with a 12-4 record, and he also said in 2016 that the Packers could “Run the Table” with a record of 4-6, and they won 8 straight football games and earned an NFC championship berth. But there may not be another answer with the magnitude of this one after Aaron Rodgers was asked if he was vaccinated on Aug. 26.

“Yeah I’ve been immunized.”

Those four words would come back to haunt Rodgers months later when he tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to miss a game against the Kansas City Chiefs, where the NFL media and fanbase discovered that he was unvaccinated due to having to follow the NFL’s unvaccinated COVID-positive protocols. The NFL media has since blasted Rodgers for his decievement and vaccination status, and after an offseason where Rodgers was reportedly “disgruntled” with the Packers front office and contemplated retirement, he was never necessarily on the media’s good side. Tom Silverstein, Packers beat reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, knows how powerful Rodgers’ words can be. “I think he underestimated how polarizing his comments regarding vaccination were going to be and the backlash was extreme,” Silverstein said. But what Silverstein also believes is that any sort of media backlash that is thrown toward Rodgers, he responds to it with incredible quarterback play.

“He’s extremely competitive and I think there are times he manufactures slights just to motivate himself to compete at the highest level.”

Rodgers has been a man on a mission for basically the entire 2021 NFL season. After an absolutely hellacious start against the Saints in week 1 where Rodgers threw zero touchdowns to two interceptions, Rodgers has since thrown 33 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions following the debacle in Jacksonville and is first in the NFL in quarterback rating according to Pro Football Focus. Rodgers’ play through all of the distraction and outside noise does not come as a surprise to Zach Kruse, editor and writer for The Packers Wire.

“Like all great players, Rodgers has the ability to block out outside distractions and focus on the task at hand . . . with him at the helm at the game’s most important position, the Packers are one of the NFL’s true contenders in 2021.”

But what truly sets Rodgers apart from the field this year is that V part in the acronym M-V-P. In the one game that Rodgers missed this year against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Packers offense was in complete disarray with Jordan Love at the helm, and they were handed a 7-13 loss in a game that they almost surely would have won had Rodgers been playing. The Packers also are currently down four starting o-linemen and have been without all-pro left tackle David Bakhtiari for the entirety of the season; yet somehow Rodgers has been playing the best football of his career in the past month. “His ability to get the Packers into good plays at the line and distribute the ball quickly and effectively has been so important for a team with so many injuries along the offensive line,” Kruse writes. Couple the injuries on the offensive line with Za’Darius Smith, Jaire Alexander and Robert Tonyan being out along with a plethora of week-to-week injuries throughout the season, and it is fair to question how the Packers are the NFC’s current number 1 seed. Simple answer: If you have that number 12 guy on the field, odds are always going to be pretty good.

Now, this begs the question: Will Aaron Rodgers’ actions off the field affect the MVP voting?

It is a possibility. The NFL MVP award is voted on by 50 sportswriters, and finding a sportswriter who defends Aaron Rodgers is like finding a needle in a haystack, which cannot bode well for 12’s chances. But make no mistake about it, if Rodgers continues this high level of play for the rest of the season and the Packers hold onto the one seed, it will be hard to argue against his resume. 

Rodgers is currently ahead in the Vegas MVP odds with 2 weeks left in the season.