Former Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers grew up in Chico, Calif., and plays pro football in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but it seems some of Berkeley’s experimental culture may have rubbed off on him based on his recent revelation.
Rodgers revealed in a podcast this week that his experience with the plant-based psychedelic drug ayahuasca in Peru helped him to his best NFL seasons, which resulted in MVP awards in 2020 and 2021.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Rodgers said during the Aubrey Marcus Podcat on Wednesday. “I really don’t. I don’t really believe in coincidences at this point. It’s the universe bringing things to happen when they’re supposed to happen.”
Rodgers said his trip to Peru occurred just before COVID limited travel in 2020.
“I’ve told this story about my trip to Peru and getting back into the country, ‘Argo‘ style,” Rodgers said in the podcast, “literally taking off a half hour before the entire country shut down as it was March 8th, 2020, right before the pandemic hit.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Rodgers discussed what the experience with ayahuasca did for him.
“To me one of the core tenets of mental health is self-love and that’s what ayahuasca did for me,” he said.
I have later expanded on the effect.
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“I had a magical experience with the sensation of feeling a hundred different hands on my body, imparting a blessing of love and forgiveness for myself and gratitude for this life, from what seemed to be my ancestors,” he said.
It’s easy to see why Rodgers credited this experience with his success in 2020 and 2021. His 2018 and 2019 seasons were decent, but not up to Rodgers’ standards, and there were suspicions that his career was on the decline. But after the trip to South America, he had perhaps the two best regular seasons of his career at the age of 37 and 38, winning the MVP convincingly both years.
What is ayahuasca? Here is what USA Today reported:
Ayahuasca, a brown-reddish drink with a strong taste and smell, contains the active chemical dimethyltryptamine, or DMT.
The Drug Enforcement Administration classified DMT as a hallucinogen, and it is associated with religious practices and rituals in South America.
The herbal drink is usually made from bark of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and leaves of the Psychotria viridis bush, according to the National Library of Medicine National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Nicknames include Huasca, yage, Kamarampi, Huni, brew, daime, the tea, and la purge, according to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.
Ayahuasca has not approved medical use in the US and is considered a Schedule I drug. Marijuana, heroin, LSD, and ecstasy are among other Schedule I drugs.
The use of psychedelic drugs, even in medical settings, is illegal in the United States. But Oregon voted to legalize psychedelic mushrooms in 2020 and could become the first state with legal mushroom access as soon as this year, The Oregonian reported.
DMT is also listed among the NFL’s banned substances. NFL players are blood tested at random during training camp and throughout the season and playoffs. Rodgers said he used ayahuasca prior to the 2020 season on a trip to Peru with his ex-girlfriend Danica Patrick.
Some medical experts, citing clinical research, say there can be benefits to using ayahuasca in the proper quantity and in a safe setting. But they said it can also be dangerous.
Cover photo of Aaron Rodgers by Samantha Madar, USA TODAY Sports
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