In the wake of reports that Aaron Rodgers will have to miss Week 9’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive for COVID-19, many are looking back at the Green Bay Packers quarterback’s comments in August about being “immunized” and wondering whether he deliberately misled people about his vaccination status.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo, Rodgers has been ruled out for the Packers’ road game against the Chiefs on Sunday, November 7, because he is unvaccinated and therefore required to stay out for a minimum of 10 days in accordance with the league’s COVID-19 protocols. At the earliest, Rodgers would be eligible to return one day prior to Green Bay’s home game against Seattle in Week 10, but only if asymptomatic.
Rodgers, however, had given the impression that he was fully vaccinated when he was asked directly about the subject on August 26 prior to the end of training camp.
“Yeah, I’ve been immunized,” Rodgers told reporters when Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette asked him about his vaccination status. “There’s a lot of conversation around it, around the league, and a lot of guys who have made statements and not made statements, owners have made statements. There’s guys on the team that haven’t been vaccinated. I think it’s a personal decision, I’m not going to judge those guys. There have been guys who have been vaccinated who contract COVID, so it’s an interesting issue that I think we’re going to see played out the entire season.”
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Will the NFL Investigate Rodgers’ Status?
More details about Rodgers’ vaccination status have emerged since news broke about his positive test, but they haven’t exactly clarified his previous comments or why he has been allowed to seemingly operate as though he were a vaccinated individual throughout the season.
According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Rodgers had an “alternate treatment” prior to returning to the Packers in July and had “petitioned the NFL for that treatment to allow him to be considered the same as someone who received one of the approved vaccinations.” Ultimately, the league, in consultation with the players’ union and an infectious disease consultant, ruled against Rodgers and determined he would be considered unvaccinated for the 2021 season, Demovsky reported.
But that raises questions about some of the other things he has done this season. For instance, the NFL forbids unvaccinated players from participating in in-person social media/marketing opportunities or gathering in groups of three or more outside the facility. It would appear Rodgers at least violated that last part during the weekend when he was spotted at a Halloween party with friends and teammates.
No Word Yet From Rodgers on Current Situation
Right now, it seems easy to criticize Rodgers when looking back on his previous comments and knowing that the league deemed him unvaccinated, but it is important to note that Rodgers has not yet taken the opportunity to defend himself against accusations of purposely misleading or lying to reporters about his vaccination status. Coaches and general managers also routinely lie to the media about other team-related matters such as roster moves, trade interests and draft plans, so it’s not like a hammer would get dropped on Rodgers if he skirted the truth in August.
The bigger question is whether Rodgers violated any of the protocols put in place for unvaccinated players. If the league determined he did violate one of their guidelines, he would be subject to a $14,650 fine for each violation. According to head coach Matt LaFleur, though, the league has not yet contacted the Packers about anything related to Rodgers’ status.
Rapoport said Wednesday on The Pat McAfee Show that Rodgers has been following the unvaccinated protocols inside the team facilities all along and that the Packers weren’t caught off guard by his status as an unvaccinated player.
“The team has known that Rodgers is not vaccinated according to the letter of the NFL law,” Rapoport said. “They have known this for a very long time. Rodgers has been wearing a mask in the building, he has been following the COVID-19 protocols for those who are unvaccinated, he has been undergoing daily testing. Sometimes at press conferences, he has been seen wearing a mask around his neck but not on his face.”