Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is pushing back on criticism that he and NFL reporter Erin Andrews received for a non-socially distanced hug they shared following a post-game interview on Christmas Day.
“Look, I’ve known EA [Erin Andrews] for a long time and I think the whole thing is obviously a little bit strange,” the quarterback said during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.”
Shortly after Rodgers led his team to a 24-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 25, he and Andrews held a brief interview — where the two stood at least six feet apart.
After the interview, however, the two bridged the gap and hugged, sparking the controversy.
Thank goodness Aaron Rodgers and Erin Andrews kept six feet apart during the interview to stay safe … before exchanging a hug together afterward.
— Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) December 26, 2021
Rodgers defended the gesture Tuesday, saying the exchange was no different than the numerous close-distance interactions he had with the athletes on the field.
“You’ve got to do some eight-feet-apart interview and that’s my friend,” Rodgers explained, “[But] that’s the same way I’d hug a friend seeing them on the field, or hug a guy on the opposing team that you have respect for and you play against.”
“Look, I do what I’m told in those situations about keeping distance, but I’m a hugger and I enjoy seeing my friends postgame,” he added.
Andrews also interviewed Rodgers after the Packers defeated the Baltimore Ravens, when Rodgers threw his 442nd touchdown, a franchise record. The duo high-fived and hugged after the interview.
Rodgers is not expected to play when the Packers face the Detroit Lions in their final game of the regular season. The Packers have an NFL-best 13-3 record going into Week 18 — and Rodgers is expected to win the MVP award for his efforts, despite his controversial clashes with the league’s coronavirus protocols.