Aaron Rodgers gets love from many Packers fans at Chiefs game despite his vaccine deception – USA TODAY

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kathy Cole-Burr anticipated the day for weeks. The diehard Green Bay Packers fan would see Aaron Rodgers in the flesh.

Then last week happened, with the MVP quarterback forced into isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 and widely criticized for his attempts to sidestep NFL protocols.

“I still love Rodgers,” Cole-Burr told USA TODAY Sports before the Packers and Rodgers’ replacement, Jordan Love, took on the Kansas City Chiefs. “I’m just disappointed.”

She witnessed a lackluster effort from Green Bay as the Packers fell to the Chiefs, 13-7.

Cole-Burr, who lives in Burlington, Kansas, received the tickets from her son as an early Christmas gift. She was among many fans spotted wearing Rodgers’ familiar No. 12 jersey.

Regardless of Rodgers’ deception, flaunting of NFL policies to contain the spread of COVID-19 and the misinformation he has spewed about vaccines, there were at least a few hundred people – real Cheeseheads, if you will — who had no problem showing up at Arrowhead Stadium while wearing his jersey.

“It’s kind of silly wearing the jersey of someone who is not playing, but he’s still our quarterback,” maintained a woman who identified herself as Emily. She, too, secured the tickets a few weeks ago. Even without Rodgers in the lineup, she made the trip from Milwaukee. She seemed unfazed by the news that has dominated the NFL universe in recent days.

“I wouldn’t say it shocked me,” Emily said. “I would’ve guessed he wasn’t vaccinated with the way he acts. Obviously, (the alternative treatment) didn’t work because he got COVID. It should be a personal choice.”

Rodgers has drawn immense criticism and seen his image shattered over the controversy, which rose to a higher level on Friday after a bizarre interview on “The Pat McAfee Show.” He maintained that an NFL doctor told him that vaccinated people could not catch or spread the virus, which the NFL flatly denied. He said that he sought the advice of radio personality Joe Rogan for his treatment plan.

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Rodgers also saw his partnership with a local Green Bay hospital terminated. And the NFL launched an investigation on Thursday that could result in discipline for Rodgers and the team.

Despite the wave of blowback, several of the fans spotted wearing his jersey refused to throw Rodgers under the bus. “Go Rodgers!” Arthur Lach exclaimed, accompanied by three friends decked out in Chiefs apparel. “I flew in just to see Rodgers play.”

Lach traveled from New York for the game. He said after the news broke last week, he never considered canceling the trip and had no second thoughts about wearing the jersey.

He also thinks Rodgers is a victim in the sense that the issue didn’t blow up until the quarterback tested positive for COVID-19.

“The NFL knew he was unvaccinated,” Lach said. “For all the press conferences that he was at without a mask, why didn’t they come and say something after Week 2? They should’ve given him a warning. But now it’s like playing Monday morning quarterback.”

Nassilia Zitouni has mixed feelings.

“I’m very upset about it,” she said. “He’s broken my heart.”

Zitouni traveled from Denver and was accompanied by Richard Schultz, who wore a long-sleeved Broncos T-shirt. When Schultz suggested that Denver could be the destination of choice for Rodgers next year, Zitouni wouldn’t have it.

“He’s not leaving!” she insisted.

Cole-Burr expects she will get a chance to see Rodgers in the coming weeks. She has tickets for the Rams-Packers game on Nov. 28 and naturally, is excited about making her first trip to Lambeau Field.

But first things first. She rooted hard on Sunday for Love, the second-year pro from Utah State who made his first NFL start. “I’m hoping he does well,” she said.

As for the issue that fuels the Rodgers controversy, it hits home in more ways than one.

“I read a lot of his comments,” Cole-Burr said. “It’s a personal choice. We’re facing it with our company. I have people at work who feel the same way. The one thing that struck me was that he did his research. He was concerned about the side effects from the vaccines. I respect that. But I know a lot of people are disappointed.”

She also pointed to the opinions, misinformation, emotions and politics attached to the issue.

“My husband was totally anti-vaccine,” she said, adding that her better half is now fully vaccinated. “We had to reschedule our anniversary trip to Hawaii five times. He was like Aaron.

“I still love him,” she added of Rodgers, “but I hope Jordan does well.”