Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images; John Lamparski/Getty Images
Packers (?) Quarterback Aaron Rodgers paid a visit to vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. during a recent trip to Santa Monica.
“With @AaronRodgers12 in Santa Monica,” wrote Kennedy on Twitter Friday. Kennedy has established himself as one of the most prominent vaccine conspiracy theorists in the world and was instrumental in popularizing false claims that vaccines cause autism.
Kennedy included a quote from his father, the late Robert Kennedy, writing that “moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence.” He added, “Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change the world which yields most painfully to change.”
“Moral courage” likely refers to Rodgers and Kennedy’s shared affinity for vaccine skepticism. Through the sharp rise of vaccine skepticism as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, long-term believers like Kennedy have encountered a fresh new crop of allies. Enter NFL Quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers has scored plenty of points with vaccine conspiracy theorists, given his vocal refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine. The four-time NFL MVP received widespread criticism for misleading reporters and the public regarding his vaccination status, telling the media he had been “immunized” despite having only taken homeopathic medicine.
In a 2021 interview on The Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers threw out every COVID-19 skeptic talking point to justify his refusal to take the vaccine. “I realize I’m in the crosshairs of the woke mob right now,” Rodgers said. “I am somebody who’s a critical thinker. I march to the beat of my own drum. I believe strongly in bodily autonomy, and the ability to make choices for your body, not to have to acquiesce to some woke culture or crazed group of individuals who say you have to do something.”
For his part, Kennedy has spent the majority of the pandemic capitalizing on the influence of figures like Rodgers who are mainstreaming junk science. In a 2022 speech in Washington, D.C., Kennedy compared unvaccinated people to Jews attempting to escape Nazi Germany. In January, Kennedy sued several major media outlets for refusing to give credulous coverage to vaccine conspiracies and their promoters.
As Kennedy’s non-profit, Children’s Health Defense, continues to spread anti-vaccine propaganda throughout the United States and around the world, one can only wonder if Rodgers is being courted as a potential spokesperson.