Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce has been getting extra screen time as of late, but it is not because of his dominant performance on the field or his rumored relationship with international pop sensation Taylor Swift. 

The four-time First-Team All-Pro tight end recently partnered up with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for a commercial promoting the COVID-19 and flu vaccines. 

Kelce’s involvement prompted New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has been among the most outspoken athletes to oppose the vaccine, to dub him “Mr. Pfizer.” 


The two-time Super Bowl champion did not appear to take issue with the nickname when he addressed the remark during a press conference last week, stating that in getting the vaccine, he was “keeping myself safe, keeping my family safe, the people in this building.” 

However, beyond a war of words between two of the NFL’s biggest stars that the ad seemingly stirred, there is an intentional messaging behind it. 

Christopher Morse, Ph.D, professor and chair of the Department of Communication at Bryant University, spoke to Fox News Digital about the messaging surrounding the commercial and Pfizer’s decision to partner with one of the league’s biggest names.

“Part of the problem that a lot of people who are promoting the vaccine or a lot of the medical professionals who are trying to encourage people to get a booster or vaccination shot is that people in general are just tired,” Morse explained. 


“They’re tired of COVID. They’re tired of talking about it. They spent a long time having to alter their lifestyle, then they were told, ‘Okay, we’re good’ and they went back to quote-unquote ‘Normal.’ Now they’re suddenly getting a message saying, ‘Well, not quite. We’d like you to kind of pick it back up again.’ And the problem with that is people are going to be highly resistant because, you know, ‘I thought it was done. Why should I have to worry about it again? I haven’t gotten COVID, nobody I know has gotten COVID. It seems to have gone in the background.’ So this idea of now I should be worried about it again — been there, done that kind of mentality.”

Typical advertising of the vaccine, or similar to what the public has seen in the past, could be seen as ineffective more than three years removed from the start of the pandemic, Morse suggested. 

“One of the ways that is going to be most effective is using ‘the carrot versus the stick’ mentality. Threatening, ‘You need to do this or people will die. If you don’t do this will be going on forever in a pandemic. You’ll never get back to normal.’ That won’t work.”

Morse pointed to the ease that the commercial featuring Kelce attempts to portray, highlighting that the public can get their COVID-19 vaccine when they go to get their flu shot – what Kelce calls “two things at once.”


Morse also noted the value from Pfizer’s perspective in selecting an athlete to deliver the message as opposed to any other celebrity. 

“I would argue that for health, celebrities don’t work very well, in general. You can’t use celebrities to sell health ideas the same way you do shoes in advertisements. Right. People are much more protective about their health. They’re much more private about their health. They’re much more resistant to outside influences telling them how to deal with their health.” 

However, as far as how the message is received, Morse pointed to the audience.

“In honesty, if you’re talking about the extremes, I don’t think it’s going to do anything.”

The commentary coming from both Rodgers and Kelce in response to the partnership present both sides of the debate, something Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel calls “important.” 

“The COVID-19 vaccines are certainly not perfect, but far safer and more effective than the anti-vaxx movement has made them out to be, and significant side effects remain rare, milder side effects more common,” Siegel said of the efficacy of the vaccine. “They decrease severity, especially in elderly and high risk groups, and appear to decrease viral load and spread somewhat, at least initially. I think they should be a matter of choice, and I certainly respect Aaron Rodgers’ right to refuse or speak out against them.”

He continued, “On the other hand, though Travis Kelce is not strictly speaking correct, since COVID can certainly spread among his family and people in the building even if he is vaccinated, nevertheless, I don’t mind his statement either, because though overstated, it serves as a kind of counterbalance to Rodgers, and so Kelce stands as a role model for taking the vaccine. This is important at a time of disillusionment of an essentially good and useful vaccine.”

Rodgers said Tuesday during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” that he would be willing to debate Kelce about the topic. 

“Mr. Pfizer said he didn’t think he would be in vax war with me. This ain’t a war homie. This is just conversation,” he said. “But if you want to have some sort of duel, debate, have me on the podcast, come on the show, let us have a conversation.”

“Let’s do it like in ‘John Wick 4’ so we both have a second … somebody to help us out. I’m gonna take my man [Robert F. Kennedy] Jr., and he can have [Dr. Anthony] Fauci or some other pharmacrat, and we can have a conversation about this,” he continued. 

“That’d be big ratings.”