State Farm Insurance on Monday voiced support for its longtime commercial spokesman, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who drew widespread criticism because of his anti-vaccine comments.
The insurer stood by Rodgers after he tested positive for COVID-19 last week and missed Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, according to a statement issued to USA Today and The Washington Post.
The Super Bowl-winning quarterback was quarantined for a minimum of 10 days under the NFL rules following the positive test. The league revealed it considered him unvaccinated, which came as a surprise to many in light of comments from August when Rodgers told reporters, “Yeah, I’ve been immunized.”
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During a 46-minute appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, which aired Friday, he portrayed himself as a victim of the “woke mob” and “cancel culture” while making a series of inaccurate and misleading comments about COVID-19, immunity from the contagion and the effectiveness of vaccines.
The comments prompted a storm of criticism from health experts, NFL fans and sports media commentators, who claimed his stance could lead his fans into harmful health decisions and promote the spread of the virus.
In response, one of Aaron’s commercial sponsors, Wisconsin-based health provider Prevea Health, dropped him as a spokesman during the weekend.
“Prevea Health remains deeply committed to protecting its patients, staff, providers and communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said in a Twitter post. “This includes encouraging and helping all eligible populations to become vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent the virus from further significantly impacting lives and livelihoods.”
But State Farm, whose commercials have turned Rodgers into a ubiquitous presence on U.S. sports telecasts, remained committed to its television spokesman.
“Aaron Rodgers has been a great ambassador for our company for much of the past decade,” a company spokeswoman said.
“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. We recognize our customers, employees, agents and brand ambassadors come from all walks of life, with differing viewpoints on many issues. Our mission at State Farm is to support safer, stronger communities. To that end, we encourage vaccinations, but respect everyone’s right to make a choice based on their personal circumstances.”
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