April 14, 2024
Aaron Rodgers isn't alone among notorious vaccine skeptics to get in a dig against Kelce's endorsement of the Pfizer shot or his rumored romance with Swift.

TMZ characterized Aaron Rodgers’ joke about Travis Kelce and his Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine commercial as a “playful jab,” but one would think that the media-savvy New York Jets quarterback would be aware that the Kansas City Chiefs tight end and his rumored girlfriend Taylor Swift have been on the receiving end of vicious, vaccine-related attacks after she cheered him on at his past two games.

It also would seem that Rodgers would be particularly attuned to the heated rhetoric used by COVID-19 skeptics, since he’s a well-known vaccine skeptic himself.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – OCTOBER 01: Injured Aaron Rodgers #8 of the New York Jets looks on prior to the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at MetLife Stadium on October 01, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) 

Back in November 2021, the former Green Bay Packers star infamously tested positive for the coronavirus and revealed on “The Pat McAfee Show” that he had not gotten the vaccine. During that incendiary appearance, Rodgers was accused of spreading common anti-vaccine disinformation when he launched into an angry screed to justify why he had not gotten the vaccine.

Rodgers was back on “The Pat McAfee Show” Tuesday for his regular weekly appearance and used the opportunity to get in a joke about Kelce being “Mr. Pfizer.” This is a reference to the star tight end participating in an advertisement for one of the companies that makes COVID vaccines.

Rodgers’ wisecrack came two days after his New York Jets lost to Kelce’s Chiefs 23-20. Rodgers didn’t play because he suffered an achilles injury in the first game of the season. On Sunday, the four-time MVP used crutches to stand on the sidelines, where he was seen enjoying a friendly chat with Kelce before the start of the game.

When McAfee asked Rodgers to assess the Jets’ play, the Chico-reared quarterback commended the Jets’ defense, suggesting that his teammates managed to keep Kelce from scoring any touchdowns.

“Mr. Pfizer, we kinda shut him down,” Rodgers said. “He didn’t have a crazy impact game. Obviously he had some yards and stuff. It felt like for the most part we played.”

Aaron Rodgers casually calls Travis Kelce “Mr. Pfizer” while talking about how the #Jets limited him on Sunday night.

(via @PatMcAfeeShow) pic.twitter.com/aBm7LSwfJQ

— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 3, 2023

The “Mr. Pfizer” comment prompted McAfee and his co-host A.J. Hawk to laugh uneasily, while Rodgers and McAfee then spent the next few minutes riffing on his joke that prompted a false report that he suffered “COVID toe” during his 2021 bout with the virus.

McAfee asked Rodgers if it felt good for him to throw some shade at Kelce for his Pfizer endorsement. He also asked Rodgers whether his “Mr. Pfizer” quip was planned. Rodgers deflected by saying he’s known Kelce a long time and can’t see how he’d be bothered by his joke,

“No, he’s doing commercials for Pfizer, so I’m sure he’s owning it,” Rodgers said. But Hawke pointed out that Kelce also endorses a number of other products and wondered why Rodgers didn’t call him, for example, “Mr. Lowes.”

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – OCTOBER 01: Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after defeating the New York Jets in the game at MetLife Stadium on October 01, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) 

When McAfee tried to push Rodgers to disclose what he and Kelce discussed during their brief moments together on the sidelines — whether he elicited any gossip about Swift, who watched the game from the MetLife luxury suite with celebrity friends Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Sophie Turner and Hugh Jackman — Rodgers again demurred.

“I think some things need to be left on the field,” Rodgers said. “It’s actually a better story left to the imagination. I saw some speculation on what we were talking about. But I’ve known him for a long time, it was a quick chat.”

As Rodgers characterized his interactions with Kelce as friendly, his “Mr. Pfizer “comment takes on darker connotations when viewed in the context of attacks that Kelce and Swift have endured in the past couple weeks.

The attacks, from vaccine skeptics, include recycled conspiracy theories about COVID-19 shots, AFP reported, via Yahoo News. Some of the internet’s “most notorious anti-vaxxers” also have been exploiting the “buzz” around Kelce and Swift’s rumored romance, as they crack jokes, lob insults and push false claims that vaccines cause widespread heart problems or kill people.

“What will break Kelce’s heart first? The Covid shot or Taylor Swift?” Charlie Kirk, founder of conservative organization Turning Point USA, wrote in one of several posts echoing a conspiracy theory about the the vaccines triggering cardiac arrests in athletes.

The Los Angeles Times also reported that right-wing commenter Tomi Lahren decried Swift’s “leftie, liberal, braindead political opinions” and wished the two luck “not with their relationship per se but rather myocarditis” The Times debunked the connection by citing a 022 National of Institutes of Health study of more than 151 million individuals, which showed that the incidence of vaccine-related myocarditis was 0.95 per 100,000 individuals.

The Los Angeles Times added that Kelce isn’t known for making overt political statements, but he has done “the next worst thing” in the eyes of some conservatives by making ads for Bud Light and by promoting the COVID vaccine. It also looks like a famous vaccine skeptic like Rodgers wanted to let Kelce know he wasn’t pleased, though he hid his aggravation beneath a veneer of friendly sideline talk.