Tom Brady and Ron DeSantis are said to be texting

But Mr Brady – perhaps at the suggestion of his wife Gisele Bundchen, who said she and her husband did not vote for Mr Trump in 2016 – later kept his distance. When the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2017, Mr. Brady did not attend the White House reception that followed.

Mr. Brady and Ms. Bundchen have reportedly hired divorce attorneys in recent weeks.

Then there’s the idea that Mr. DeSantis, a Harvard and Yale-educated former college athlete who privately teased a 2024 presidential run, needed help spelling the name of the National Football League’s most iconic stadium — and for many, one holy place voters in a critical battlefield state of the president. At least Mr. DeSantis didn’t need help pronouncing Lambeau, a name that’s been tripping up on presidential hopefuls.

For Mr. Michels, whose campaign also didn’t respond to inquiries about his comments, seeking a friendship with Mr. Rodgers, who is himself a Super Bowl quarterback (if only once, at the to the dismay of many of Wisconsin), who is undoubtedly the most popular figure in the state.

Mr. Rodgers, like Mr. Brady, got involved in politics with some complications. In 2011, he supported unionized public school teachers in their battle with Gov. Scott Walker. He later said quarterback Colin Kaepernick belonged in the NFL after Mr Trump called for his banishment for kneeling while playing the national anthem before the game to protest police brutality against black people.

But last year Mr Rodgers’ refusal to get vaccinated against Covid became a source of misinformation about the vaccines. That made him a hero to Wisconsin’s fellow vaccine skeptics, particularly Senator Johnson, who thanked him “for his courage in defending personal freedom and health autonomy.”

This month, Mr. Johnson courted Packers fans along the way wears the jersey of Mr. Rodgers.

Mr. Michels, who is involved in a close fight with Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, was with Mr. Johnson outside of Lambeau Field, though he was conspicuous for his lack of Packers gear. A local Democrat pointed out that Mr. Michels, a Wisconsin native who lived in Connecticut and Manhattan for more than a decade before returning home to run for governor, wore a green vest was the shadow carried by the visiting jetsnot the hometown Packers.