Aaron Rodgers wins the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Year at the 3rd Annual NFL Honors at Radio City Music Hall on February 1, 2014 in New York City Source: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Watch: NY Jets Quarterback Aaron Rodgers Lets Fly with Conspiracy Theory about Where AIDS Came From

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 4 MIN.

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers claimed, bizarrely, that AIDS had been invented by the U.S. government and unleashed on the world in some sort of nefarious ploy.

He suggested that Dr. Anthony Fauci was part of the conspiracy, of course.

"The blueprint, the game plan, was made in the '80s," Rodgers claimed in an appearance on the Look Into It podcast last month, Men's Journal recounted.

The play? According to Rodgers, it was this: "Create a pandemic with a virus that's going wild."

Now the inevitable Anthony Fauci connection: "Fauci was given over $350 million to research this, to come up with drugs – new or repurposed – to handle the AIDS pandemic," Rodgers said. "And all they came up with was AZT."

"That's all nuts and not true," OutSports declared. "AZT is not the only treatment for HIV/AIDS and has proved so successful that it's still in use today."

But that was just the warmup. The real action was yet to come as Rodgers went on to detail his version of history.

"Create an environment where only one thing works," Rodgers claimed was the goal. "Back then AZT, now Remdesivir until we get a vaccine."

Rodgers' claim seemingly overlooked the fact that more than one vaccine to combat the spread of COVID-19 already exists. But Rodgers plowed on ahead, acknowledging the existence the COVID-19 vaccines in the very next breath.

"By the way, we know Fauci had [a] stake in the Moderna vaccine and we know Pfizer is one of the most criminally corrupt ever," Men's Journal quoted Rodgers saying; "the fine they paid was the biggest in the history of the DOJ in 2009."

That was evidently a reference to the $2.3 billion settlement that the Department of Justice reached with Pfizer in 2009 – money the pharma giant agreed to pay, the DOJ announced at the time in a release, "for misbranding Bextra with the intent to defraud or mislead."

As the release went on to explain, it is illegal for a drug to "be marketed or promoted for so-called 'off-label' uses," but in spite of this, "Pfizer promoted the sale of Bextra for several uses and dosages that the FDA specifically declined to approve due to safety concerns."

Pfizer's conduct in the Bextra case was not great, but it wasn't exactly the crime of the century – and it was nothing compared to the horrors of the opioid epidemic.

Rodgers acknowledged his lack of expertise, saying, "I'm not an epidemiologist, I'm not a doctor, I'm not an immunologist, whatever the fuck."

Even so, he felt qualified to make his claims because, he said, "I can read, though. And I can learn and I can look things up just like any normal person. I can do my own research, which was so vilified, to even question authority."

Asked the quarterback, "What are we talking about? We're going to put our full trust in science that can't be questioned?"

Far from never being questioned, science is often tested and interrogated – by scientists, that is, who require rigorous proof before pronouncing anything to be a "theory," let alone a fact.

Rodgers provided no evidence for the story he was spinning, and his hypothesis falls far short of factuality, or even reasonable credibility – none of which has prevented others from spouting the same uninformed narrative.

"Fauci's purported links to Moderna, which presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (who coincidentally was reportedly considering choosing Rodgers as a running mate) also espoused, have long been debunked," Men's Journal noted.

"Rodgers' claims of Fauci and other researchers engineering HIV with the help of the U.S. government for the purpose of unleashing a pandemic on the public have – to put it lightly – not been historically or factually proven," the publication went on to add, before noting that, rather than originating in a U.S. government lab, "AIDS is believed to have jumped from primates to humans as early as the late 1800s."

Unlike Rodgers' claims, that theory can be, and has been, tested – literally, with the same kind of blood test that people now routinely use to check their HIV status.

The New York Times reported in 1990 on a then-31-year-old blood sample being subjected to a HICV test and showing a positive result, which explained the 1959 death of a sailor that, at the time, perplexed the medical establishment.

Even before that, the Times noted, "scientists had found evidence of AIDS infection dating to 1959 in one blood sample that was collected in a research study in Zaire in Africa and tested for the AIDS virus after the disease was first recognized in 1981," though "no one knows if the Zairian, who was not identified, ever developed AIDS."

Even in 1990, conspiracy theories like the one Rogers spouted had attributed HIV to human invention. The Times article said that the 1959 blood sample "refuted the widely publicized charges made by Soviet officials several years ago that AIDS arose from a virus that had escaped from a laboratory experiment that went awry or was a biological warfare agent."

As the Times detailed, "The human retrovirus group to which the AIDS virus belongs was unknown at the time. Nor did scientists then have the genetic engineering techniques needed to create a new virus."

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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