Aaron Jones, Kenny Clark Sound Off on Aaron Rodgers Criticism

Jones on Rodgers COVID

Getty Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after a play against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter of their game at AT&T Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Arlington, Texas.

The Green Bay Packers are still reeling from Wednesday morning’s revelation that starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have to miss their Week 9 road game against the Kansas City Chiefs due to COVID-19 protocol, but don’t expect any of the team’s other stars to throw the leader of their locker room under the bus.

Reporters spent quite a bit of the Packers’ media availability on November 3 focusing on Rodgers and his placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list, asking questions that covered everything from when the team first learned he would not be available for them against the Chiefs to whether the three-time MVP is vaccinated — something that head coach Matt LaFleur repeatedly refused to disclose despite numerous attempts.

“Again, you guys are, in a roundabout way, trying to get me to answer whether or not a guy is vaccinated or unvaccinated, and I’m not gonna,” LaFleur said about 10 minutes into his press conference with reporters on Wednesday. “I’m not going there.”

The Packers also had to deal with one particularly pointed question that was asked not only to LaFleur but also to running back Aaron Jones and nose tackle Kenny Clark during their respective meetings with the press: Did any of them believe that Rodgers’ decision not to get vaccinated was a “selfish” choice on his part?

Jones certainly wasn’t interested in taking the bait.

“I don’t think it’s a selfish decision,” Jones said after earlier declining to say if he knew whether Rodgers had been vaccinated. “There’s guys across the league who are not vaccinated and to say they are not committed to their team, I think that’s not true. He’s our leader, he’s 100% committed to this team just like anybody else is in this locker room. Just because of status doesn’t mean you’re uncommitted or committed.”

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Clark ‘Shocked’ But Not Blaming Rodgers

As one of the Packers’ defensive captains, Clark said he was “shocked” to learn from LaFleur on Wednesday morning that Rodgers would be unable to play for them against the Chiefs on Sunday. The only other time that Rodgers has missed time during Clark’s six seasons with the Packers came in 2017 when he missed nine games with a broken collarbone.

“It was just crazy, man. It’s a next-man-up mentality, but that’s the leader of our team, so it was just crazy news,” Clark said, adding later that he felt “more shocked than anything.”

Crazy as the situation might be, Clark reiterated that it can happen to anyone on the team and doesn’t fault Rodgers for making his own personal decision about his health, even though Rodgers being vaccinated would have given him an opportunity to clear COVID-19 protocol in time to play against the Chiefs this week.

“Everybody’s health status, that’s your own personal decision and it’s something that we all talked about earlier in the year,” Clark said. “Whether guys are going to be out, be in, it could happen to any one of us, so it is what it is. It’s a next-man-up mentality. And throughout COVID, we knew that some days some guys aren’t going to be there. It just happened to be Aaron this time. We don’t look at it as (selfish).”

Jones Lost Father to Complications With COVID-19

Standing behind Rodgers might just look like the good teammate move for Jones as a fellow leader of the offense, but it is worth noting that Jones has some experience with the harmful impact of COVID-19 after losing his father, Alvin Jones Sr., due to complications with the virus back in April.

Jones’ father was a regular attendee at Packers games and could sometimes be seen on the national broadcasts celebrating his son’s rise through the ranks with the team. Since his passing in April, Jones has dedicated the rest of his career to his father and has spoken often of how their close connection still helps drive him. He also wears a custom-made chain with his father’s ashes around his neck during games for the team.

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