Kelce and his mother, Donna, launched a new campaign with Pfizer, encouraging people to get their flu shot along with the latest COVID-19 vaccination. Yes, Kelce is likely being paid well by Pfizer, but encouraging people to stop the spread of a deadly disease is (checks notes) a good thing. Only a fool would believe it isn’t. Or a legion of fools.
You may have missed some of the things that have been said about Kelce in recent days and they are staggeringly ignorant. It remains shocking that in the 21st century people behave this way but here we are.
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As Kelce’s relationship with Swift has enthralled millions of people, his becoming an advocate for vaccines has caused him to also be a target for extremists.
“What will break his heart first: His new relationship with Taylor Swift or the COVID shot…They’re both in the business of breaking hearts,” said Turning Point Founder Charlie Kirk. He added: “I find it rather repulsive, to be perfectly honest, that a supposedly alpha male person like Travis Kelce is pushing a vaccine toward a demographic that doesn’t need it.”
“I challenge Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, to show me the medical evidence why he, at the age of 33 physically fit, needs a Pfizer’s Covid vaccine shot,” wrote Fox News contributor Leo Terrell. “Travis show me the medical evidence. Stop lying to the American people.”
Rodgers joined in on the buffoonery on The Pat McAfee Show. Saying that the Jets’ 23-20 loss was a moral victory, Rodgers added: “…We hung with the champs and that our defense played well, and Pat (Mahomes) didn’t have a crazy game. And Mr. Pfizer—we kind of shut him down. He didn’t have his crazy impact game.”
I’ve talked before about the transformation of Rodgers. I didn’t know Rodgers well but we’d chat at his locker during training camp and there was never a trace of any of this. He always appeared smart and open minded. I genuinely liked him.
I still don’t think Rodgers understands the power he wields. No, one individual isn’t responsible for all of the misinformation. Even someone as popular as Rodgers. But there are people who look at Rodgers and believe he knows more than even the people who dedicate their lives to studying vaccines and infectious diseases. Rodgers appears smart on these topics and speaks with authority on them. It’s ignorant authority but it’s authority.
Read moreIt’s dumb to blame Taylor Swift for Kansas City’s struggles against the Jets
Dr. Peter Hotez, one of the world’s experts on vaccinology, and vaccine misinformation, said it’s unclear the impact one person can have when spouting misinformation. But he worries about something else.
“It’s difficult to say, or ascribe, the negative impact to any single individual,” Hotez told USA TODAY Sports. “In the case of high profile professional athletes, I worry that their strong anti-vaccine or anti-science viewpoints become the face of the franchise or the league. In the case of the NBA, I know they worked hard to overcome some strong views expressed by specific individuals. I don’t know if the NFL has attempted to do the same.”
This is why Rodgers’ views are a problem. He is the face of the Jets and one of the faces of the league. The NFL, in fact, remains a target of misinformation goons.
Just minutes after Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field last season, extremists were attempting to link what happened to him being vaccinated for COVID.
“This is a tragic and all too familiar sight right now: Athletes dropping suddenly,” wrote Kirk on X at the time. His post was viewed millions of times.
“Everybody knows what happened to Damar Hamlin because it’s happened to too many athletes around the world since COVID vaccination was required in sports,” said former Newsmax correspondent Emerald Robinson. That tweet was also viewed millions of times.
These were lies, too. Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest caused by a blow to the chest he took during the game.
McAfee has served as a conduit for Rodgers’ vaccine misinformation. There has rarely been any pushback. McAfee apparently doesn’t see it as his place to correct Rodgers. If McAfee did, he’d likely lose access to Rodgers, who is notoriously thin skinned.
So here we are. One of the most popular athletes of our time, a Super Bowl winner, a former quarterback for a storied franchise, and a current quarterback playing in the most high profile market in the nation. Mocking someone who is asking people to get flu and COVID shots that could save lives.