With the one year anniversary of the Covid-19 vaccine approaching, there are many who remain unvaccinated.

It is a stance that people have taken that has led to public scrutiny or even, sometimes, costing them their jobs. This is not just something that happens to regular, everyday people, it also happens in the world of sports. 

Kyrie Irving of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and Aaron Rodgers of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers have made the news in recent weeks regarding their vaccination statuses during the ongoing pandemic. Both individuals’ situations were not only covered just by the sports media, but also national news. While both parties have inherently different circumstances, what both have in common is that they both remain unvaccinated.

The NBA does not have a vaccine mandate.

Kyrie Irving has yet to play a game this season. (Adam Hunger / AP)

However, NBA teams playing in the cities of New York City and San Francisco must comply with the mandatory vaccine mandate. The NBA teams affected are the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors.

Players of the home teams in these cities would not be allowed to play in games until fully vaccinated. But this did not apply to visiting teams playing in these cities.

Before the start of the 2021-2022 NBA season, it was reported that  Irving and Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors were not vaccinated.

Wiggins tried to apply for a “religious exemption,” but was denied by the NBA. Wiggins would eventually get the vaccine, but stated that he felt “forced.”

Irving has not been vaccinated yet.

Initially, the idea of Irving playing only in road games this year was being mentioned as a possible compromise to the situation. That idea was quickly put to rest when the Brooklyn Nets announced that Irving would not be available until he is fully vaccinated.

While there were some that applauded the All-Star point guard for taking a stand,  many were very vocal about Irving being selfish, not being a good teammate and putting himself and others at risk by not being vaccinated.

By not playing, Irving is set to lose $17 million  this season. Kyrie Irving remains a member of the Brooklyn Nets, despite rumors of him retiring, being traded, or being waived. 

Rodgers, meanwhile, missed a Week 9 game versus the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive for Covid-19.

Rodgers does not have to adhere to a mandatory vaccine mandate, but when asked about his vaccination status Rodgers responded by saying he is “immunized.” His wording made it seem as if he had taken the Covid-19 vaccine.

It was reported that Rodgers received a homeopathic treatment from his doctor and asked the NFL to count that as being vaccinated, but the league denied his request. The NFL subsequently fined the Green Bay Packers $300,000 for protocol violation and Aaron Rodgers was fined $14,000.

Rodgers was criticized for misleading the public with his choice of words. However, the anger would not be nearly as vicious as Irving has endured. The most likely reason being is because Rodgers only missed one game.

After the Week 9 loss to the Chiefs, Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers to a 17-0 home victory versus the Seattle Seahawks.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. ( Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports)

Both Irving and Rodgers are immensely popular and considered some of the best in their respective sports.  

Irving helped lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a championship in 2016 alongside LeBron James and Kevin Love. The Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the 73-9 Golden State Warriors.

Irving’s game winning shot over Stephen Curry is considered to be one of the biggest shots in NBA history.

Rodgers is the reigning NFL MVP, having previously won the award in 2011 and 2014. Rodgers helped lead the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl XLV victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, being named Super Bowl MVP.

Currently this season both Irving and Rodgers’ teams are considered to be championship contenders.

Irving was set to play a full season with superstar teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden. Rodgers has alluded that this may be his “Last Dance” with star wide receiver Davante Adams and the Green Bay Packers.

There are some fans of their teams that just want to win, at any cost, so not taking the vaccine angers people because they know these players are crucial to contend, let alone win a championship.

From Irving’s popular Nike sneaker line to Rodgers’ being the guest host of “Jeopardy,” both individuals have an influence on many others, whether they want to or not.

The Green Bay Packers are 8-2 thus far this season, with Rodgers missing  one game. The Brooklyn Nets are 11-5 this season, with Irving missing all games. Both teams are considered locks to make the playoffs in their respective sports. It remains to be seen if either will win a championship this season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: