The NFL Let Aaron Rodgers (And Itself) Off the Hook for COVID-19 Violations
With Odell Beckham Jr. the main topic of conversation, the NFL announced a minuscule fine for the Packers QB
With the newfound availability of Odell Beckham Jr. the main topic of conversation around the league on Tuesday evening, the NFL announced a one-time fine for Aaron Rodgers for violating COVID-19 protocol on multiple, obvious, well-documented occasions.
In addition to fining the 37-year-old Green Bay quarterback $14,650, the NFL also fined Packers receiver Allen Lazard the same amount as they both apparently attended a Halloween party while unvaccinated, a violation of league protocols that prohibit unvaccinated players from gathering outside of their team’s facility in a group of more than three players. The Packers were also fined $300,000 for the COVID-19 protocol violations of the players.
“The Club was fully cooperative in the investigation into violations of the collectively bargained NFL-NFLPA protocols,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ProFootballTalk. “While the review showed a few isolated instances of Rodgers and Allen Lazard failing to wear a mask in the facility, they were substantially compliant otherwise. There was no widespread or systemic mask-wearing violations.”
Absent from the discipline for the Packers, Lazard and Rodgers from the NFL was a fine levied against the league, which was aware of Rodgers’s unvaccinated status (and presumably Lazard’s), for allowing the star QB to repeatedly conduct widely televised press conferences in Green Bay’s facility without a mask, a clear violation of COVID-19 protocols.
Like the Packers and unlike the public at large, the league was aware Rodgers, who missed Sunday’s game after testing positive for COVID-19 last week and rejected opportunities to speak to the NFL/NFLPA joint infectious disease consultant and/or the league’s chief medical officer, is not vaccinated and could have easily snuffed his unsanctioned (and unsafe) meetings with the press after Week 1. Instead, the league chose not to act until its hand was forced following Rodgers testing positive for COVID-19 and put the blame on the Pack, the quarterback and Lazard. (Hopefully the Packers or Rodgers pay the fourth-year pro’s fine as he’s making under $1 million this season.n.)
Prior to the fines being levied, Rodgers followed up last week’s extremely articulate appearance on The Pat McAfee Show with a return to the program on Tuesday during which he issued a classic non-apology while also taking responsibility for saying what he wasn’t apologizing for.
“I shared an opinion that’s polarizing,” Rodgers said. “I get it. And I misled some people about my status, which I take full responsibility of, those comments. But in the end, I have to stay true to who I am and what I’m about. I stand behind the things that I said. I made some comments that people might have felt were misleading. To anybody who felt misled by those comments, I take full responsibility for those comments. I’m an athlete. I’m not an activist. I’m going to get back to doing what I do best, and that’s playing ball. I shared my opinion. It wasn’t one that was come to frivolously. It involved a lot of study and what I felt like was in my best interest for my body. Further comments, I’m going to keep to myself and my doctors.”
If Rodgers keeps his word on that, it’ll be a surprise. If he doesn’t, it won’t be because of anything that the NFL did.
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