Packers Quarterback Aaron Rogers to Ponder His Future During a Four Day Darkness Retreat

From a Washington Post story by Des Bieler headlined “Hello Darkness: Aaron Rogers to ponder his future in sensory deprivation”:

It remains to be seen if Aaron Rodgers becomes a member of the Las Vegas Raiders, but he is set to experience his own version of the Black Hole.

The Packers quarterback said he will immerse himself in a four-day “darkness retreat” to help him decide whether to retire, stay in Green Bay or push for a trade.

As Rodgers explained during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” he will be staying in a small, soundproof structure with no lights, music or other distractions. He will have a bathroom, and food will be provided to him via a pass-through with a slot at each end so that light won’t enter.

“It’s just sitting in isolation, meditation, dealing with your thoughts,” Rodgers said. “It stimulates [the psychedelic substance] DMT, so there can be some hallucinations in there, but it’s just kind of sitting in silence, which most of us never do. We rarely even turn our phone off or put the blinds down to sleep in darkness. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Rodgers knows something about the effects of DMT, or dimethyltryptamine, having twice gone to Peru in previous offseasons to consume ayahuasca. He has praised ayahuasca for having “unlocked a lot of my heart” and claimed it helped him win the most recent two of his four NFL MVP awards. Rodgers reiterated that taking ayahuasca had a “profound impact” on him.

This time, though, whatever mind-altering experience he has will come from within. Rodgers told McAfee that in talking to friends who have tried darkness retreats, none of them has had a “bad trip.”

“They’ve all had really magical experiences,” he said, “and meaningful breakthroughs.”

Rodgers is coming off a breakthrough of sorts, having teamed with golfer Ben Silverman last week to win the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The 39-year-old quarterback said that in years of participating in the event, he had only made the cut once.

At Pebble Beach, Rodgers noted that he was hearing pleas from NFL fans to join their preferred teams. He said then that Raiders fans had the greatest “presence,” and he described them as “probably the most vocal and the most numerous.”

Rodgers also pointed out that he is “not a free agent” but rather is still “under contract with the Packers.”

While NFL fans may be dreaming of seeing Rodgers on their team next season, he made it clear Tuesday that retirement is still on the table.

“For sure. It’s a real thing, 100 percent,” he said.

“That’s why it’s going to be important to get through this week and then to take my isolation retreat,” said Rodgers, who has spent the entirety of his 18-year career with Green Bay. “Just to be able to contemplate all things my future, and then be able to make a decision that I think is best for me moving forward and in the highest interest of my happiness.”

McAfee referred to speculation that Rodgers might want to put off retirement for at least a year so that he won’t be in the same Pro Football Hall of Fame class as Tom Brady.

“The idea that I wouldn’t want to share the stage with Tom and J.J. Watt, I think is ridiculous,” Rodgers said. “… Their decisions don’t impact my own decision.”

Asked for an opinion on the Super Bowl matchup between Kansas City and Philadelphia, Rodgers said the Eagles had “one of the best [offensive] lines I’ve seen in the last 20 years, and if they can handle the [defensive] line of the Chiefs, they’re going to have a real good chance to win.”

Describing Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes as “such a dynamic player,” Rodgers said he thought Kansas City might need to take an early lead and “play from ahead,” forcing the Eagles out of running plays and into a “one-dimensional” passing attack.

Rodgers added that he was looking forward to enjoying the Super Bowl and its halftime show before plunging into sensory deprivation. He noted that if his retreat did go poorly for any reason, “You’re not locked in.”

“You can leave,” he said. “If you can’t do it, you can just walk out the door.”

According to the website of a Guatemala-based company that hosts darkness retreats, it does not recommend them “if you have a long history of mental illness, addiction, or hospitalization, or if you are currently in an unbalanced mental state, have a chronic physical illness or are working with an addiction right now.”

“The Dark Retreat is a practice open to those who are called to dive deeply within themselves,” the company states, “and rest in undisturbed meditation for many hours a day, for multiple days.”

“I’ve had a number of friends who have done it and had some profound experiences,” Rodgers said. “It’s something that’s been on my radar for a few years now, and I felt like it would be awesome to do, regardless of where I was leaning after this season.”

“Then after that,” he added, “I feel like I’ll be a lot closer to a final, final decision.”

Des Bieler is a staff writer in Sports who covers a wide variety of topics, usually with an eye toward items of national interest. He first settled in at The Post in 1995 and has proved difficult to dislodge.

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