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Why Aaron Rodgers ultimately didn’t want to be RFK Jr.’s running mate

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Aaron Rodgers chose football over politics.

The New York Jets quarterback on Tuesday addressed being considered as a running mate for independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. While Rodgers called the potential pivot into politics “a real thing,” he ultimately didn’t want the VP gig because it would have required him to step away from football.

“I love Bobby. We had a couple of really nice conversations,” Rodgers told reporters at Jets OTAs. “But there were really two options: It was retire and be his VP or keep playing. And I wanted to keep playing.”

It’s unclear whether Rodgers was ever formally offered the position.

Kennedy is a lawyer and environmental activist who has become a leading figure in the movement that rejects the scientific consensus around vaccines, and a vocal critic of the public health establishment. After originally running as a Democrat, he refocused his efforts around an independent campaign last year.

The Kennedy campaign confirmed in March that Rodgers, who shares Kennedy’s anti-vaccine views, and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura were on a short list of candidates under consideration to be the VP pick. But weeks after Rodgers’ name surfaced as a possible VP, Kennedy named California lawyer and philanthropist Nicole Shanahan as his running mate.

Rodgers has been in the headlines other times during the past few months for various comments about politics, vaccines, health care and conspiracy theories made during TV and podcast appearances. He stressed at the end of last season the team needs to eliminate outside distractions — a statement by which he still stands.

“Those were offseason things and those were real opportunities,” Rodgers said. “Once the season starts, it’s all about football.”

Rodgers, 40, suffered a season-ending torn Achilles just a few plays into his official Jets debut last year. Jets head coach Robert Saleh said the four-time NFL MVP is “doing everything” during practices.

The Jets will open the 2024 season on Monday Night Football against the 49ers in San Francisco.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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