Fact Check

Aaron Rodgers Said He Wanted To Join 'the Team That's Going To Bring Back Polio'?

The claim came in response to the news that Rodgers was on Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s potential list of presidential running mates.

Published March 14, 2024

 (Ryan Kang / Getty Images)
Image courtesy of Ryan Kang / Getty Images
In an interview with The New York Times about his possible involvement in Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s 2024 presidential campaign, NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers said, “If I can’t walk anymore, nobody should. That’s why I’m joining the team that’s going to bring back polio.”

On March 12, 2024, The New York Times published an article detailing potential running mates for independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s 2024 presidential campaign. High on the list was the quarterback of the New York Jets, Aaron Rodgers, who Kennedy had been talking to "pretty continuously" for at least a month, according to the article. 

As discussion over the potential options spread on social media, Ken White, the author of the legal blog Popehat, reposted the article on two "Twitter-like" social media platforms, Instagram Threads (owned by Meta) and BlueSky. White captioned the post with a purported quote from Rodgers: 

"If I can't walk anymore, nobody should" said injured Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers. "That's why I'm joining the team that's going to bring back polio."

(@kenpopehat / Instagram Threads)

A Snopes reader emailed us and asked if the quote was real. It was not. Rodgers never said that.

The injury in question happened during the 2023 NFL season, when Rodgers, who had just been traded to the New York Jets, completely ruptured his Achilles tendon on the fourth play of the season. He did not play for the rest of the season. 

The "team" in question refers to Kennedy's presidential campaign. Snopes has thoroughly investigated Kennedy's connections to the anti-vaccination movement, which is a prominent part of his presidential bid. The polio vaccine, meanwhile, is considered to be one of the most successful public health campaigns in history.

Rodgers has come under fire for his political views both before and since the New York Times article was released. During the 2021 NFL season, Rodgers missed a game after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He told journalists earlier in the season that he had been "immunized," but refused to elaborate further.

Over the next two years, it became clear that Rodgers had not received an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine. He revealed on podcasts with Pat McAfee and Joe Rogan that after discovering an allergy to an ingredient in the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) and researching the Johnson and Johnson vaccines, he opted against taking it. Instead, Rodgers used holistic medical practices that have no valid scientific support or backing.

Since the New York Times report, CNN has published an exposé alleging that in 2013, Rodgers shared conspiracy theories with CNN correspondent Pamela Brown implying that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was fake.

Rodgers posted a reply to the article on his X (formerly Twitter) account on March 14, 2024:

In order to fact-check the "bring back polio" statement, we started by reading the New York Times article it supposedly appeared in, but did not find the quote. A quick google search using the quote's wording found no results from any news outlet, The New York Times or otherwise.

When we reached out to Ken White via email for comment, he confirmed that the post was intended to be satirical and had no basis in reality.


Aaron Rodgers Clears the Air on "Immunized" Controversy. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlZ5Zwp09FI. Accessed 14 Mar. 2024.

Brueck, Scott Davis, Hilary. "Aaron Rodgers Tried to Tell Joe Rogan about His Research into His Own COVID 'immunization Treatment,' but He Couldn't Explain How It Works." Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/aaron-rodgers-unproven-covid-treatment-joe-rogan-2022-8. Accessed 14 Mar. 2024.

History of Polio Vaccination. https://www.who.int/news-room/spotlight/history-of-vaccination/history-of-polio-vaccination. Accessed 14 Mar. 2024.

Lauletta, Kelly McLaughlin, Tyler. "Aaron Rodgers Tests Positive for COVID-19 Months after Dodging a Vaccine Question by Saying He's 'Immunized.'" Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/packers-quarterback-aaron-rodgers-tests-positive-covid-19-report-2021-11. Accessed 14 Mar. 2024.

O'Brien, Rebecca Davis. "Aaron Rodgers and Jesse Ventura Top R.F.K. Jr.'s List for Running Mate." The New York Times, 12 Mar. 2024. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/12/us/politics/rfk-jr-aaron-rodgers-jesse-ventura.html.

"Popehat (@kenwhite.Bsky.Social)." Bluesky Social, 12 Mar. 2024, https://bsky.app/profile/kenwhite.bsky.social/post/3knjqsnoxff2y.

Report, Ken White at Popehat. "The Popehat Report." The Popehat Report, https://www.popehat.com/c/about. Accessed 14 Mar. 2024.

Tapper, Pamela Brown, Jake. "RFK Jr.'s VP Prospect Aaron Rodgers Has Shared False Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theories in Private Conversations | CNN Politics." CNN, 13 Mar. 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/13/politics/aaron-rodgers-sandy-hook-conspiracy-theories/index.html.

The Pat McAfee Show | Friday November 5th, 2021. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3JU_oAEinQ. Accessed 14 Mar. 2024.

Threads. https://www.threads.net/@kenpopehat/post/C4bhdDDRY8u. Accessed 14 Mar. 2024.

Jack Izzo is a Chicago-based journalist and two-time "Jeopardy!" alumnus.