OAKLAND The quarterback wasn’t there. No point out of his title throughout two hours. Possibly there was no want.

The mere prospect of a pairing had already served its goal — driving information cycles, stirring hypothesis, drumming up intrigue round a longshot bid for the White Home by an outsider intent on defying political norms. However Aaron Rodgers operating for Vice President of the US?

This not solely defied political norms, it strained credulity.

It was all however unattainable to ascertain Rodgers balancing the trials of his day job as quarterback of the New York Jets with a high-stakes political marketing campaign, significantly this fall, when the guts of the NFL’s common season collides instantly with Election Day. Nonetheless, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., impartial candidate for president and a member of America’s most well-known political household, insisted earlier this month that Rodgers, a good friend of his, was among those at the top of his list of potential running mates.

Rodgers never publicly denied or dismissed his candidacy — he “welcomed the overture,” in response to The Sunday Evaluation — furthering, for a few days not less than, the notion that a 40-year-old NFL quarterback and future Professional Soccer Corridor of Famer might take a break from shouldering the hopes of the Jets’ season to journey throughout the nation and marketing campaign, meet with voters and even perhaps take part in a vice presidential debate. Or, by some means, do each concurrently.

The prospect of a Kennedy-Rodgers ticket — scant because it was from the start — was formally put to relaxation Tuesday in Oakland, the place Kennedy named lawyer and philanthropist Nicole Shanahan his operating mate. Shanahan, previously married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, is a new face within the political area. She not too long ago offered $4 million to assist pay for a Kennedy advert that aired throughout the Tremendous Bowl.

Rodgers match the mould Kennedy was in search of out. “Our appeal is to young people,” Kennedy stated in a latest interview, and Rodgers “is battle-tested because he’s been hammered by the press” for his “skepticism towards authority.”

It’s debatable how a lot juice Rodgers would have added to Kennedy’s candidacy. In a few brief years, he’s grow to be among the many most polarizing figures in sports activities, and even a few of Kennedy’s most ardent backers, a few of whom shuffled into the Henry J. Kaiser Heart for the Arts on Tuesday for the announcement, weren’t shopping for the notion that Rodgers was ever a critical candidate for VP.

“A publicity stunt,” Zack Nelson referred to as it. The 26-year-old enterprise proprietor from Seattle flew down for the occasion and stated he has donated closely to Kennedy’s marketing campaign, citing Kennedy’s embrace of cryptocurrency. “All you have to do is say ‘Aaron Rodgers might be our VP’ and people will bite,” Nelson continued. “I think it was a really smart PR play to get attention. And it worked.”

From a close by seat, Ryan Sarnataro, a 72-year-old who drove 85 miles in from Santa Cruz Tuesday, stated the potential of Rodgers becoming a member of the ticket left him wholly unimpressed. “I’m not crazy about people with no qualifications being a heartbeat from the presidency,” he stated.

Journey Derham, a native New Yorker, never took it significantly. “Didn’t believe it,” he stated. “It’d just be a lot. It’d throw so much confusion into the race.”

Some, like Nicole Fuller, a lifelong Bay Space resident, appeared surprised to study that Rodgers was even a candidate for the job. “I didn’t know he was being considered — I had no clue,” she stated. “But maybe he would’ve brought in that popular feel to this, almost like Taylor Swift? We might need it. We’re kind of hoping for a miracle here.”


A supporter cheers throughout Robert F. Kennedy’s occasion saying Nicole Shanahan as his operating mate on Tuesday. (Josh Edelson / AFP through Getty Photographs)

Sue Peters, a neuroscientist from New York who flew in for Tuesday’s announcement, held no reservations about any of Kennedy’s potential operating mates, together with Rodgers. “I trust (Kennedy),” she stated. “I felt like (former president Donald) Trump broke the mold and opened the path for Bobby to run for president as someone who doesn’t have a history in politics. I don’t think a vice president needs to have a history in politics, either.”

One Kennedy backer — who admitted he was new to politics — snuck away from his spot backstage earlier than the announcement to seize a few “KENNEDY 24” hats within the foyer. For a few moments, he stood and scanned the life-sized murals that adorned the doorway, a collage of images spanning Kennedy’s life. One confirmed the candidate, perhaps 4 or 5 years previous, cradled in his father’s arms. Earlier than Tuesday, Metta World Peace (previously Ron Artest) didn’t know Robert F. Kennedy Sr. was making his personal presidential run when he was assassinated in 1968.

Like Rodgers, the 20-year NBA veteran and former champ has grow to be pleasant with Kennedy over the previous 12 months. He flew in from Los Angeles Tuesday morning to indicate his assist, talking thrice on the podium, revving up the gang earlier than Kennedy and Shanahan took the stage.

Requested about Rodgers, whom he doesn’t know personally, World Peace weighed the potential for a skilled athlete operating for vp throughout the center of a season. “Man, that would’ve been really interesting,” he lastly stated. “And really cool.”


How did we get right here, a world during which a star-quarterback-turned-part-time-provocateur finally ends up on the VP shortlist of a candidate who occurs to be John F. Kennedy’s nephew?

One thing has shifted for Rodgers over the previous few years, not less than publicly: he’s misplaced curiosity in biting his tongue or in providing up the canned soundbites so {many professional} athletes — particularly franchise quarterbacks — lean on when pressed in entrance of microphones or cameras. The way in which Rodgers has put it: he merely grew bored with sitting again, staying quiet and permitting others to form the narrative round him.

He wished his say.

Rodgers has repeatedly courted controversy — at instances seemingly welcoming, even relishing the firestorm that ensues; in different moments rising pissed off at how he believes he’s being portrayed. He’s dabbled in conspiracy theories on “The Pat McAfee Show,” a cozy pulpit the place Rodgers is aware of he received’t be challenged by the hosts.

Not even when, as occurred in January, Rodgers falsely alleged that TV host Jimmy Kimmel’s title may very well be amongst these revealed in courtroom paperwork linked to convicted intercourse trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Kimmel threatened to sue. Rodgers tried to stroll again the feedback however never apologized.

“I’m not calling him (a pedophile) and neither should you,” Rodgers stated on McAfee’s present later. “Let me make that crystal clear. I don’t take any excitement or joy out of anybody doing that. So don’t do that in my name. Don’t do that at all. Those are serious accusations meant for people who are on that list.”

He not too long ago went on X to disclaim a CNN report that he had shared conspiracy theories in regards to the Sandy Hook bloodbath, his solely public feedback since he was reported as a potential operating mate of Kennedy’s, whom he’s stated he’ll assist this fall if Kennedy reaches the poll. Like Kennedy, Rodgers has repeatedly expressed a skepticism towards vaccines, at one level mocking Travis Kelce as “Mr. Pfizer” after the Chiefs All-Professional tight finish starred in a industrial advocating for COVID and flu vaccines. Rodgers later challenged Kelce and Dr. Anthony Fauci to hitch him and Kennedy for a debate on the subject.

Rodgers misled reporters about his personal vaccine standing earlier than the 2020 season and later examined constructive for COVID. He was fined by the Packers for not following league protocols. “I realize I’m in the crosshairs of the woke mob right now,” he stated on McAfee’s present quickly thereafter, “so before my final nail gets put in my cancel culture casket, I think I would like to set the record straight on so many of the blatant lies that are out there about somebody who’s a critical thinker.”

It’s what Rodgers typically calls himself.

“I’m not, you know, some sort of anti-vax flat-earther,” he informed McAfee in 2020. “I am somebody who is a critical thinker.”

Rodgers has stated his outspokenness has value him mates, teammates and sponsors. Turbulence has trailed him like a shadow, each on the sector and off. There was his messy, years-long divorce with the Packers final spring, which led him to New York, the place he was welcomed as a savior. His first season with the Jets ended within the first quarter of the primary recreation. The workforce stumbled.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Aaron Rodgers, Robert Saleh and how the Jets’ season fell aside: ‘One thing has to alter’

On a latest look on Joe Rogan’s podcast, Rodgers identified that he’s “less revered now” than he was a few years in the past. The dialog then shifted again to the COVID controversy. “You stand for something, you stand courageously for what you believe in, or the opposite side of that is saying nothing and being a coward,” Rodgers stated. “I wasn’t willing to do that.

“I don’t want what I went through to get brushed over,” he continued. “Also, I don’t give a f—. I’ve been able to make a ton of money playing a sport I’m really good at, and I’m thankful for that. I have a platform. Some people want you to shut up and throw a football, and that’s fine, but I think there has to be a certain voice of reason …”

That’s what attracted Kennedy to Rodgers within the first place.

“Aaron Rodgers’ instinct to choose service to others over his own financial interest, his commitment to America’s physical and mental health, his work to legalize treatments of veterans and trauma survivors with psychedelic therapies, and his consistent record of keeping the courage of his convictions inspire and move me,” Amaryllis Fox, Kennedy’s marketing campaign supervisor, wrote on X earlier this month.

Becoming, then, that when The Sunday Evaluation broke the story that he was amongst Kennedy’s high selections for VP, Rodgers was in Costa Rica on his annual ayahuasca retreat.


There’s no proof the Jets knew this was a chance. One can solely think about how swiftly jaws hit the ground within the workforce’s facility when “Rodgers being considered for Kennedy’s VP pick” scrolled throughout the ticker. At this week’s NFL league conferences in Orlando — earlier than Kennedy formally dominated Rodgers out by naming Shanahan his operating mate — the workforce’s high executives appeared to downplay the likelihood that their star quarterback was contemplating a short-term, longshot enterprise into politics.

“I didn’t take (it) very seriously,” common supervisor Joe Douglas stated.

Did Rodgers attain out to the workforce in any respect, informing them that he and Kennedy have spoken?

“He didn’t have to,” coach Robert Saleh stated.

Soccer, then. Douglas has spent the majority of his offseason capital shoring up the Jets’ leaky offensive line, which, partially, led to Rodgers’ premature Achilles harm final September. “I hope he feels like he has some candidates for Director of Homeland Security (and) Secretary of the Defense now that we’ve fortified the o-line,” the GM joked.

Rodgers, proprietor Woody Johnson professed, is “roaring to go,” and is on schedule to return.

That’s good for the Jets. They’ve dodged one distraction. However figuring out this quarterback, extra are on the way in which.

Zack Rosenblatt contributed to this report.

(Picture of Rodgers: Ryan Kang / Getty Photographs)