1. Aaron Rodgers, who repeatedly claims he doesn’t play the victim and doesn’t care what people say about him, seemed to accuse Rob Gronkowski of being part of woke culture and blames trade rumors on Big Pharma during his weekly interview with Pat McAfee on Tuesday.

McAfee asked Rodgers about his future and said that despite rumors swirling that Green Bay might trade the quarterback, we still didn’t know if Rodgers would even return in 2023. Here’s how McAfee posed his question to Rodgers:

“Have you already come to the decision that you’re playing football again next year? Is that already something that’s taken place because the decision has been made that you’re getting traded by sports media, and I feel like there’s another decision that has to be made before any of that can take place? Where are you in that stance and are you in the middle of that process still?”

So, this should be your generic, run-of-the-mill question and answer. Rodgers is 39 years old and has an enormous contract, so retirement or a trade are both viable options for his future.

However, Rodgers acted like he’s the first athlete to ever be part of trade and retirement speculation, brought up woke culture in regards to Gronk recently criticizing him and somehow blamed the rumors about his future on Pfizer. No, seriously.

Here’s what Rodgers said to McAfee and keep in mind this was all a reply about whether he’s decided to play football in 2023.

“Usually you would think they would wait until maybe the off week between the championship week and the Super Bowl to drum up some story lines. … I have some people that love to track that stuff so I’ve been made aware of it.

“Listen, there’s heroes and villains in sports and entertainment and I think because of my stance on COVID and maybe some other things, I’ve been cast as the villain, especially the last few years and so that is the way that a lot of things I said are often interpreted. I’m not upset about that. I don’t feel like a victim in any way. I don’t have that mentality. That’s fine. I actually embrace that role a little bit if that’s how you want to cast me.

“I did see there were some comments that I’m only playing for MVPs and stuff like that. [They] didn’t maybe quite see the entire clip of some of the stuff I said. I don’t care about that stuff. That doesn’t offend me. This culture, this woke culture wants to be offended by everything. You just go online and find something you don’t agree with. I’m offended. How can you possibly say that? I don’t really care. I don’t care who it’s coming from or who said it. They’re entitled to their opinion. It might not be right, and every now and then you gotta get on the air and say, Hey that’s just not true; let’s tone it back a little bit. Most of the time you just gloss over it, who cares? It doesn’t really matter. Because it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t affect my day-to-day. I don’t agonize about, ‘Gronk said you shouldn’t worry about MVP.’ I know Gronk. I love Gronk. He’s awesome. He’s fun energy to be around.

“But what do they do? If you take the right sound bite from the right thing and it’s a station that may or may not have in the past been brought to you by Pfizer they gotta make sure their villain gets cast in the correct light. And whether or not they’re sponsored by Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson, whatever it might be, when you go up against some of those powers that be, put yourself in the crosshairs, they’re gonna paint you a certain way. And that’s what the media did to me a couple of years ago. That’s fine. That’s their prerogative. That’s what they wanted to do. But I think I responded pretty good in those times and I’m glad I went through that and anything that comes after that, small potatoes.”

I don’t even know where to begin.

First off, constantly claiming that you don’t care about rumors and that media reports don’t bother you when you’re addressing them in such a wacky manner clearly indicates you care. A lot. And there isn’t an athlete today who likes to play the victim more than Rodgers. Just read that quote again, and tell me that doesn’t sound like someone who wants to be a martyr.

Secondly, to claim that Gronk called out Rodgers for saying he wants to win MVPs because of woke culture is more funny than anything. I mean, Gronk’s main goal in life is to make as many 69 jokes as possible and spike random things.

The best part of Rodgers’s diatribe, though, is the implication that Big Pharma is instructing networks to give him negative coverage because he didn’t get the vaccine. This is a QAnon-level conspiracy. But remember everybody, Rodgers also says he isn’t a victim.

And for the record, I was not instructed by Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson to write this.

2. Speaking of conspiracies, there are some truly awful human beings who have tried to push a narrative that Damar Hamlin really wasn’t at Sunday’s Bengals-Bills game, and the person shown on TV was a clone or body double.

Kyle Brandt actually asked Bills quarterback Josh Allen about this during their weekly interview on Kyle Brandt’s Basement, and Allen was in shock.

3. Come for Travis Kelce singing a little Journey, stay for Travis Kelce explaining why he’s an “a–hole” for what he did to Chad Henne during the Chiefs’ playoff win against the Jaguars on Saturday.

4. I told you in yesterday’s Traina Thoughts that a lot of people were blasting Bengals cornerback Eli Apple over his trash-talking. This tweet from Jets defensive back Sauce Gardner came in after I published, but it’s so good I had to post it today.

5. As someone who has listened to Chris Russo, I know he doesn’t pronounce anything correctly and uses the wrong phrases on a daily basis. I often wonder what people who aren’t familiar with this think when they hear him do this on First Take, as he did Wednesday.

6. The latest SI Media Podcast features a conversation with former Super Bowl champion and current podcast host Chris Long.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Google.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: In honor of Royal Rumble week, today we remember the time Ric Flair won the event in 1992 while entering at No. 3, which caused an all-time meltdown by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan on commentary.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

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