Insurance company State Farm said on Monday it was sticking by Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers after another of his sponsors dropped him amid controversy over his decision not get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 last week and faced backlash for telling reporters at a news conference in August that he was “immunized” in response to a question about whether he had received the COVID-19 vaccine.
He was placed on the NFL’s COVID-19/reserve list last week and was forced to sit out Sunday’s loss against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In a written statement, longtime sponsor State Farm called the 2020 NFL MVP “a great ambassador” for the company.
“We don’t support some of the statements that he has made, but we respect his right to have his own personal point of view,” said State Farm.
“We encourage vaccinations, but respect everyone’s right to make a choice based on their personal circumstances.”
Over the weekend, Green Bay-based healthcare organization Prevea Health ended its partnership with Rodgers, and reiterated its support for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Prevea Health remains deeply committed to protecting its patients, staff, providers and communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said in a written statement on Saturday.
“This includes encouraging and helping all eligible populations to become vaccinated against COVID-19.”
Speaking on “The Pat McAfee Show” last week, Rodgers said he had declared himself to be “immunized” at the news conference because he had undergone alternative treatment to raise his immunity in the hope that the NFL would consider him vaccinated, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
The revelation prompted outrage, with Hall of Famer and six-time National Basketball Association (NBA) MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writing on Monday that Rodgers had undermined the credibility of all athletes.
“What’s especially bothersome is that Aaron Rodgers didn’t just lie and threaten the health of those around him, he also damaged professional sports,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote on his personal website.
Bob Dorfman, the creative director at Pinnacle Advertising, said Rodgers had done significant damage to his potential for sponsors.
“If you lie about being vaccinated … how can you be believable as a product spokesperson?” said Dorfman.
“State Farm may remain faithful to Rodgers for now, but no other prospective sponsor is going to go near him. Until he really gets immunized, he’s too controversial a celebrity to sell anything.”
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