During his weekly appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, vocal anti-vaxxer Aaron Rodgers took a shot at Travis Kelce for appearing in a PSA encouraging people to get both their COVID boosters and flu shots, referring to him as “Mr. Pfizer.”
McAfee laughed pretty hard at the joke, saying during a later show that part of that is because he was thinking about the reaction Rodgers would get online, which he certainly did get. Rodgers is clearly addicted to attention, and I guess I’m part of the problem because I’m giving him some more.
I’m not here to police jokes. It was just a joke after all, but Aaron Rodgers has consistently gone on The Pat McAfee Show and non-jokingly peddled misinformation about COVID vaccines, and not once to my knowledge has McAfee pushed back.
Rodgers has been making weekly appearances on the show for two years now, and did so after he was discovered to have lied about his vaccination status, and issued a word salad of an apology, fielding softballs from McAfee and former teammate, AJ Hawk. Watching McAfee and Hawk during that 2021 interview made me wonder if that’s what it was like in the Green Bay Packers’ locker room all those years.
Maybe it’s unfair to expect someone like McAfee, who’s clearly an entertainer, to do the job of a journalist and actually counter Rodgers’ conspiracy theories with facts. That being said, it shouldn’t be too much to ask him to stop being Aaron Rodgers’ PR team.
Later in the week, McAfee recounted the interview on his show, saying “That was a solid joke. It was a solid joke. Now obviously there are people on the internet who did not appreciate the way Aaron cracked a joke at Travis’ expense, because of a vaccine, especially with Aaron working for Johnson & Johnson currently at the New York Jets.” [Ed. note: Jets owner Woody Johnson is an heir to the J&J pharmaceutical empire.]
That’s an interesting piece of hypocrisy that McAfee could’ve brought up while interviewing Rodgers, but of course, he saved it for a later date.
Another member of the show, Ty Schmit even speculated that Rodgers made the joke because he was jealous of Kelce (allegedly) dating Taylor Swift, or because he’s in State Farm commercials. But not to Rodgers’ face. Never to his face.
Even if McAfee doesn’t vehemently disagree with Rodgers about vaccines, he clearly does at least somewhat because he himself is vaccinated, and chose to work for a network with a vaccine mandate. He doesn’t believe in Rodgers’ reasoning for not being vaccinated, but he just lets Rodgers say any crazy thing he wants without questioning anything.
I believe the reason no one on the show ever pushes back against Rodgers or gives him any grief about anything is that they’re worried they’ll piss him off enough that he stops coming on the show.
The Pat McAfee Show debuted on ESPN on Sept. 7, and has experienced a stellar month of ratings with 242 million across all platforms from its start to Sept. 29. I can’t say anything about that. That’s incredible for a show that’s on during the middle of business days.
I am skeptical about whether this performance will continue. Shows tend to receive the highest ratings when they debut and then decline and level out as time goes on. The PMS was a huge success before ever being on ESPN, and it seems like it has brought its audience to the network, but I wonder if ESPN’s traditional audience will come around.
The format and presentation of the show hasn’t changed, and there’s something inherently weird about seeing a newer form of media collide with traditional media. It’s like seeing a late-night talk show host make a joke about a TikTok trend.
No matter how successful the show is, McAfee certainly wants to enjoy a rating boost from weekly Rodgers interviews, and he’s not going to do anything to lose that.