In August, two Buffalo Bills wide receivers were hit with one of the NFL’s biggest fines for failing to adhere to proper COVID-19 protocol for unvaccinated players.
In Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers may have been held to a very different standard, new reports reveal. Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, November 3, and the league is now investigating whether the Packers properly enforced health and safety rules for the unvaccinated quarterback.
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Rodgers Out After Infection
The Packers quarterback will miss Sunday’s Week 9 game against the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive, with NFL.com reporting that he had not been vaccinated.
The news prompted the league to announce that it would be investigating the Packers organization to see if Rodgers was allowed to skirt health and safety protocol. As the report noted, Rodgers regularly appeared at news conferences inside the team facility without a mask, which would be against protocol for an unvaccinated player.
“The primary responsibility for enforcement of the Covid protocols within club facilities rests with each club,” the NFL said in a statement Wednesday. “Failure to properly enforce the protocols has resulted in discipline being assessed against individual clubs in the past. The league is aware of the current situation in Green Bay and will be reviewing the matter with the Packers.”
As the NFL.com report added, Rodgers had skirted around the question of whether he was vaccinated, telling reporters in August that he was “immunized.” The report claimed that Rodgers sought an exception based on COVID-19 antibody levels before the season, but the league turned him down and he was supposed to face the same rules and regulations as unvaccinated players.
Bills Players Faced Harsh Penalties
While Rodgers was apparently able to go through the season without adhering to rules imposed on unvaccinated players, a pair of Bills wide receivers were not so fortunate.
As ESPN reported, Cole Beasley and Isaiah McKenzie were each fined $14,650 for breaching protocol within the team’s facility. Beasley complained about his fine on Twitter, claiming that he briefly unmasked “literally 5 steps” from the locker room door after having worn his mask all day.
But Bills head coach Sean McDermott seemed to agree with the punishment, saying it was the responsibility of every player to adhere to the rules.
McDermott ran a tight ship last season, taking precautions that included keeping rookie quarterback Jake Fromm away from the rest of the players so the team would not be caught without a quarterback in case there was an outbreak that took out Josh Allen and Matt Barkley.
“It’s unfortunate when players get fined,” McDermott said back in August. “That being said, these rules have been agreed upon and in place and well-communicated for some time. And so it’s important for us that we focus on being safe and healthy — that’s No. 1 and that’s always been No. 1 — and then No. 2 is doing our best to stay focused on the goal and the purpose of why we’re here — which is to win football games.”
It’s not clear yet what discipline, if any, Rodgers could face. As NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero noted when Beasley and McKenzie were fined, repeat offenders face heightened discipline that could ultimately include a four-game unpaid suspension.