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Aaron Rodgers Dabbles in the ‘QAnon of Architecture’

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast
Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

Does a conspiracy theory exist that is so implausible, so floridly bonkers that noted conspiracy theorist and future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers won’t at least consider it? Apparently not, if Rodgers’ recent podcast appearance is any indication.

The New York Jets signal-caller—who missed nearly all of the 2023 season with an Achilles tear and spent his free time musing about Jimmy Kimmel’s nonexistent connections to Jeffrey Epstein—seems to believe that architecture isn’t real.

The revelation came last month during an appearance on a podcast hosted by jujitsu magnate and QAnon promoter Eddie Bravo, where the pair stumped on behalf of the Tartarian conspiracy.

Briefly, once upon a time, and not that long ago, there existed the nation-state of Tartaria. This utopian and highly technologically advanced civilization was founded somewhere in central Asia, possibly created by giants or aliens, and spanned the entire globe. Life in Tartaria was an abundant paradise, powered by unlimited renewable energy, and jam-packed with architectural marvels, the likes of which humans at that time could never dream of erecting.

As was the case with Atlantis, some undefinable cataclysmic event wiped Tartaria off the face of the earth–an apocalyptic flood of mud, or perhaps a super-charged electrical storm of some sort, according to Bravo—leaving zero concrete proof it ever existed. Or almost no proof. Namely: sumptuous cathedrals, spires that seemed to reach the heavens, the Beaux-Arts buildings, and any pre-modern structures, really, ranging from the Pyramids to the White House.

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Tartaria’s destruction was a boon for the people left behind, who simply stole the now-abandoned buildings and asserted they were responsible for creating them, reaping untold riches to boot. How all of human history prior to 1900—books, newspapers, scholarly works, photographs, oil paintings, everything—could have been rewritten or scrubbed to hide the greatest act of theft ever perpetrated is never clearly explained.

The conspiracy originated in the late 1970s in the scribblings of a crank Russian mathematician and pseudoscientist. It had been more or less dormant until finding new life online starting in 2016, thanks to YouTube channels and exhaustive subreddits. As Bloomberg reported last year, the combination of a quasi-fascistic longing for antiquity and rejection of anything modern as degenerate—plus a pu-pu platter of narratives and villains to choose from—makes the conspiracy function like the “QAnon of architecture.”

For Rodgers, it’s extremely real.

“It’s very interesting stuff,” Rodgers told Bravo about the theory that a lost, ultra-advanced civilization of maybe aliens or giants built the 1915 World’s Fair or the Singer Building in New York City. “What is actually true that we’ve been told and what is a lie. They go, ‘Why does that fucking matter?’ Because if they can lie about that, what else can they lie about?”

This is far from the first time that Rodgers has partaken in conspiratorial thinking. Prior to 2021, the only non-football stories about Rodgers concerned his estrangement from his family, Page Six-type gossip about his romantic relationships with a Hollywood actress or two, or his earnest desire to become the host of Jeopardy. In fact, he often lent his voice to progressive causes.

Asking him to get vaccinated, apparently, caused Rodgers to go off the deep end. In the summer of 2021, Rodgers equivocated about his vaccination status, telling reporters he was “immunized,” which actually meant seeking out his own alternative treatments. That wasn’t his fault, though. It was everyone else’s for not drilling down.

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“Had there been a follow-up to my statement that I’ve been immunized, I would have said, ‘I’m not some sort of anti-vax, flat earther. I am somebody who's a critical thinker,’” Rodgers said at the time. (He also compared himself to Martin Luther King.) Similar to other terminally online rubes, he was receiving medical advice from Joe Rogan. “I consulted with a now good friend of mine, Joe Rogan, after he got COVID, and I’ve been doing a lot of the stuff that he recommended.”

The swarm of criticism did little to sway Rodgers. In fact, he seemed to grow more entrenched and combative. Rodgers advocated for the use of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as a COVID treatment long after it was debunked; railed against masking and anything smacking of a vaccine mandate, pinning the intermittent and frequently lax efforts to rein in a pandemic as being a nefarious plot perpetrated by the “pharmaceutical-industrial complex”; he claimed to have spotted a UFO prior to the 2005 NFL draft; according to a former teammate, 9-11 trutherism has always been a hobby of his; and he got into a high-profile spat with star tight end Travis Kelce because of a Pfizer ad.

But no one’s been the subject of Rodgers’s ire more than Dr. Anthony Fauci. During his appearance with Bravo, he called the jab he’s never received a “so-called vaccine” and dismissed Fauci as a shill for Big Pharma dating back to the AIDS crisis. This came during an extended endorsement of noted anti-vaxxer and fringe presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr..

Appearing on Bravo’s podcast represents something of an escalation for Rodgers. This is a different type of crowd than his ESPN bro-fest with Pat McAfee, where he was paid millions in exchange for whining about the “woke mob” and “Alphabet mafia” that are out to silence him.

Bravo originally came to prominence by training scores of professional MMA fighters, and went on to found 10th Planet, a Brazilian jujitsu school with locations in the U.S. and abroad. At times, he’s peddled Flat Earth theories, engaged in 9/11 truthing, and, of course, thinks the moon landing was staged. Naturally, he’s been a regular guest on The Joe Rogan Experience. After getting hooked on QAnon pre-pandemic, he told Rogan’s audience of millions, “Q is real, dude. Q is real.”

On his own podcast, Bravo’s guest list mainly consists of MMA stars, but it doesn’t take long to find far-right figures, discredited quack doctors, QAnon influencers, Jan. 6 participants, and more, all of whom are given loads of time to air their grievances with little to no resistance from the host.

Bravo was doing most of the talking—or rather an unbroken rant—during Rodgers’ sit down. And like Rodgers, COVID hardened his conspiratorial beliefs. COVID, Bravo said, isn’t real. Instead, an unknown “they”—the Deep State, Klaus Schwab, George Soros, The Great Reset; pick your favorite shadowy 21st century boogeyman—had simply passed off bad cases of the flu in order to test the limits of their planned subjugation of the human race where everyone is put into FEMA camps.

Here, Rodgers pushed back a bit. The virus exists, he insisted, but had been created and released from a lab. On the other hand, Bravo isn’t sure that germs are real, either. He believes in the Terrain Theory of disease transmission: humans can’t spread disease to one another; they’re simply contracting illnesses from being in the same location as other people. Similarly, Bravo believes gain of function research is another form of fraud, like NASA. Instead, scientists are taking the money and buying private islands. If Rodgers disagreed with any of this, he didn’t say so on air.

They were able to find common ground on the basic rationale for COVID. It was “a test to see what they could get away with, what people would be willing to put up with,” as Rodgers put it. People—especially those whose livelihood was harmed—should come out of that experience with more skepticism of the government and about “what actually happened to me,” Rodgers added. For those wanting to learn more, they recommended watching the debunked anti-vaxx documentary Died Suddenly, which was produced by the white nationalist and antisemitic shock jock Stew Peters, and maybe check out their Instagram page.

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The pair also agreed that people are “waking up” to the myriad ways in which the powers-that-be are subjugating their freedoms. Bravo never outright brought up QAnon to Rodgers, but they spent a good chunk of time chatting about the “great awakening” that’s transpiring since COVID and represents a light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s hard to see that kind of talk as anything but a QAnon reference. Rodgers even went so far as to reference a seminal QAnon slogan. Standing up for one’s principles was everything, no matter what trials one might be forced to endure from “the zombie people” who are devoted to canceling people, calling them racists and white nationalists. “It’s the warrior-poet who can stand in the storm and say, ‘I am the storm,’” he said.

“The Storm” in QAnon lore signifies the moment in which the secret cabal of pedophile Satanists running the world are arrested and either thrown into gulags or summarily executed. Former Texas GOP chair Allen West also caught flak for using the slogan “We are the storm” in 2021. Then again, the phrase Rodgers went with was also used as a passcode in the opening scene of Mission: Impossible — Fallout and in a rise-and-grind social media post by Tom Brady.

The final 20 minutes of the program were devoted to the Tartarian conspiracy. Rodgers had mentioned it earlier in February during an appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience. Unfortunately, Rogan wasn’t really hip to that sort of thing. Bravo’s producer, Sean Hibbeler, a 9/11 truther and Flat Earther who’s hosted pro-Hitler social media performers and Holocaust deniers on his own podcast, was brought on to provide background.

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“For me it’s the cover-up of giants, the cover-up of our true history,” said Hibbeler. (Some Tartarians also believe that a race of giants once bestrode the earth, but they too were wiped out.) “It’s basically stolen technology that’s being sold back to us little by little… like the puppets we are.”

Bravo chimed in to note that “the evidence is in virtually every city” in the world. Take cathedrals built without the use of power tools. “How is that possible?” he wondered. (It is quite possible.)

So far, news outlets haven’t covered Rodgers’ inability to wrap his mind around basic architectural and engineering advancements in the 20th century. The NFL’s in-house organ only mentioned Rodgers’ promise during the podcast to play “two or three or four more years” before retiring—and apparently didn’t think the final two hours of conspiracy-mongering and addled paranoia in the podcast was worth covering.

The Jets finished 7-10 in 2023, though they hope Rodgers’ return to the field will give their won-lost record a boost. In the upcoming NFL draft, perhaps they can select Tyler Owens, a Flat Earth-curious defensive back who doesn’t “believe in space” or “other planets.” If nothing else, Rodgers will have someone nearby to bond with other than crackpot podcasters.

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