According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the NFL concluded its investigation into the Packers’ COVID-19 protocols on November 9 and determined there had been multiple violations of league rules, handing out fines to both the team and multiple players. The Packers were fined $300,000 for a combination of two protocol violations, while Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard were each slapped with $14,650 fines.
Demovsky’s league source also revealed the specifics behind the violations. Rodgers and Lazard were each fined for attending a Halloween party the weekend before the star quarterback tested positive for COVID-19, violating the protocol that forbids unvaccinated players from gathering in groups of more than three outside the facility. Meanwhile, the Packers are dinged for Rodgers not wearing a mask during his press conferences and for not reporting Rodgers’ and Lazard’s attendance at the party.
Another important note from Demovsky about the concluded investigation was the NFL’s warning that further violations from the Packers could result in “increased discipline, including possible change in draft position or loss of draft choice.”
“We respect the League’s findings and we recognize the importance of adherence to the COVID protocols to keep our team and organization safe and healthy,” Packers president Mark Murphy said in a statement to ESPN. “We will continue to educate the team regarding the importance of the protocols and remain committed to operating within the protocols.”
Rodgers remains on the Packers’ reserve/COVID-19 list and will not be eligible for activation until Saturday, November 13, at the earliest. While he expressed optimism on Tuesday about his chances of clearing the protocol in time to face the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10, a decision cannot be made any sooner than one day before kickoff.
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Halloween Party Caught Attention in Hindsight
For a moment there, Rodgers was winning the internet after revealing his much-anticipated Halloween costume to be John Wick from the popular Keanu Reeves movie franchise. He had months earlier hinted he was growing out his hair in preparation for his Halloween costume and did not disappoint, even posing with Preston Smith’s dog for some stylish photos on his Instagram.
Unfortunately, it may not have been in Rodgers’ favor to share so many photos of the event on social media. While not posting about it wouldn’t have changed the fact that the party happened, the NFL might not have been aware of the party if not for it being publicized on social media or felt compelled to look into a potential violation in that regard. Picture evidence also doesn’t help the case against wrongdoing.
Lazard might have been able to avoid fines altogether if the NFL didn’t have an overt reason to look into the Halloween party. His only punishment derived from his attendance at the party as an unvaccinated player since he had done all of his press availabilities over Zoom.
‘No Widespread or Systemic’ Issue Found With Packers
The good news about the NFL’s review of the Packers’ COVID-19 protocols is that nothing deemed a violation was considered to be a significant or widespread issue within the team’s facility Here’s what Demovsky wrote about the league’s findings:
The investigation also included a review of video from inside the club facility and found only a few isolated instances of Rodgers and Lazard failing to wear a mask in the facility. Other than those isolated incidents, the video showed no widespread or systemic violation, the source said.
Yes, the Packers would have preferred a situation where no fines were levied against them for violations of league protocol, but it is still better than the worst-case scenario of them losing draft picks. Don’t forget, the Las Vegas Raiders ended up losing a sixth-round pick as a consequence of their multiple violations in 2020.