Football at the professional level is not an environment that encourages the questioning of any kind of authority – scumbag owners, tyrannical head coaches, the police, military, God. Aside from golf, NASCAR, and maybe baseball, it is America’s most conservative sport. Players are, openly or not, dissuaded from uttering anything not related to football, unless it’s in the most milquetoast, uncontroversial manner possible.
I always find it refreshing when players wade outside of their intellectually stifling confines (i.e. the Colin Kaepernick saga). Not many do, which is understandable. The vast majority of players exist in a fraught space where their contracts aren’t guaranteed, and the average career is about 3 years. Only the best players are offered any semblance of stability – and it just so happens that most of them are happy to toe the company line. Within the context of religion, I can only recall one player, Arian Foster, who’s spoken about it in a skeptical manner. But now I can add Aaron Rodgers to the list. I
On a recent YouTube video with Danica Patrick (his significant other) he spoke about his developing thoughts on religion:
Here are some quotes, courtesy of Jason Duaine Hahn at Yahoo:
“I just didn’t find any connection points with those things,” said Rodgers, who played football at the University of California, Berkeley. “I started questioning things, and had friends who had other beliefs — I enjoyed learning, that’s kind of a part of my life.”
I don’t know how you can believe in a God who wants to condemn most of the planet, you know, to a fiery hell. Like, what type of loving, sensitive, omnipresent, omnipotent being wants to condemn most of his beautiful creation to a fiery hell at the end of all this?
“Religion can be a crutch, it can be something that people have to have to make themselves feel better,” […]“Because it’s set up binary, it’s us and them, saved and unsaved, heaven and hell, it’s enlightened and heathen, it’s holy and righteous … that makes a lot of people feel better about themselves.”
Rodgers was raised Christian and openly identified as such early in his career. But if one was paying close attention (which wasn’t always easy as his spiritual thoughts have only been expressed irregularly), it’s clear he wasn’t like most of his God-loving colleagues. There was the time he hilariously trolled Russell Wilson:
For someone who has said that he doesn’t believe God cares much about football, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers made a comment after Sunday night’s game at Lambeau Field that could only be taken as a shot at Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
Answering a question about the Packers’ 27-17 victory over the Seahawks, Rodgers said: “And then getting help from God. I think God was a Packers fan tonight, so he was taking care of us.”
And there was his appearance on Pete Holmes’s podcast in 2016. I can’t find a summary or transcript anywhere, but it was pretty clear he was moving in a deist direction, while still holding a belief in a benevolent, loving God and showing an interest in other religions. So his development shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone paying attention.
Unfortunately, his evolving thoughts on religion contributed to and maybe was the genesis of the rift with his still-religious family:
But Rodgers’ family was not impressed with his candid comments, a source tells PEOPLE.
“They were dismayed,” says the insider. “The family is very dedicated to their Christian faith.”
“To them, his comments are basically a slap in the face to the fundamentals of who they are. It’s basically him turning his back on everything they have taught him.”
“His comments are very hurtful to the family,” says the insider, who says that the family “still loves Aaron very much,” but disagrees with him about fundamental things. “They have these times where things start to thaw out, but then something like this happens, and then it’s back to square one. It’s sad.”
While Rodgers never actually said he was an atheist, that hasn’t stopped many from conflating his statements with actual atheism, including terrible jokes about his poor performance in this past Sunday’s NFC Championship game leading to his apparent nonbelief (never mind the fact the video came out weeks ago).
That concludes what I believe to be my 3rd or 4th religion-related post on this atheist blog network