Aaron Rodgers appeared to take a jab at fellow NFL star Travis Kelce over his ads promoting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines by referring to him as “Mr. Pfizer”—while also missing a key point when about pharmaceutical giants.
During an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday, quarterback Rodgers gave a rundown on his team the New York Jets’ Sunday showdown against Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs edged a 23-20 victory over the home team.
“[It was a] moral victory out there, that we hung with the champs and that our defense played well,” said Rodgers. “Pat [Mahomes] didn’t have a crazy game, and Mr. Pfizer [Kelce], we kind of shut him down a little bit. He didn’t have his, like, crazy impact game.”
While Rodgers didn’t explicitly identify the target of his jab, it was clear that he was referring to Kelce, who just days ago unveiled a new commercial promoting the availability of the COVID and flu shots this fall. The ad is a partnership with Pfizer.
The comments weren’t particularly shocking, given Rodgers’ vocal stance against the COVID vaccines. He faced criticism late in 2021 when, after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, the then Green Bay Packers quarterback revealed that he had not been vaccinated as he expressed skepticism about the vaccine’s efficacy.
His comments were all the more controversial because he told reporters back in August 2021 that he had been immunized against COVID-19, though he didn’t detail how. He isolated for 10 days in November 2021 after testing positive.
As Rodgers’ COVID vaccine skepticism continues today, his “Mr. Pfizer” swipe at tight end Kelce is worthy of a raised eyebrow, given the source of his income. The Jets—to whom Rodgers signed earlier this year—are owned by Woody and Christopher Johnson, heirs to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune.
Johnson & Johnson was also one of the pharmaceutical giants that released a COVID vaccine. However, Rodgers—who is currently recovering from an ankle injury—went an alternative route to combat the virus.
After testing positive for COVID-19 in 2021, Rodgers said that he had been taking the anti-malaria medication hydroxychloroquine and the anti-parasite medication ivermectin to treat his symptoms. According to medical authorities, neither medication has any proven effect on alleviating COVID symptoms.
At the time, he also said during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show that he had leaned on the advice of Joe Rogan, who in the past has faced accusations of spreading misinformation surrounding the novel coronavirus.
“I consulted with a now good friend of mine, Joe Rogan, after he got COVID,” Rodgers said at the time. “And I’ve been doing a lot of the stuff that he recommended in his podcasts and on the phone to me.”
In 2021, when Rodgers spoke about his reluctance to take the COVID vaccine, he said that it could stand to affect his fertility, though he didn’t cite any studies to support that particular theory.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no clinical research has linked any of the vaccines approved for use in the U.S. to male infertility.
While the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has been linked to cases of blood clots in adult women younger than 50, the CDC has stated that blood clots in male vaccine recipients are rare.
According to an Oxford University study published in August 2021, the risk of developing blood clots is “substantially higher” from COVID-19 infections than from any possible side effects of taking the vaccine.
During an appearance on the Aubrey Marcus Podcast in August 2022, Rodgers spoke about how he was viewed by each side of the political aisle after revealing his position on the vaccines.
“All the right was like, ‘He’s our champion now’ and all the left was, ‘He’s the enemy,’” he said. “Look, politics is a sham first of all, I think. And I wouldn’t do CNN just like I wouldn’t do Fox News. I have no desire to be a part of this.
“I’m sharing a personal opinion, based on my own health and what I think is best for my body. You can disagree with it all you want. You can agree with it and champion it. But I’m not saying it to gain favor with one side and hate from the other.
“I mean, actually, my opinion became very polarizing because people feel strongly on both sides about it. But I hope at the bare minimum that there was conversation that could be had—civil conversation. And if you still disagree, then it’s OK to disagree. But we’ve taken out I think in our society a lot of that ability to have differing opinions.”