Rules for unvaccinated NFL players, when Packers QB could return, more

As the Packers prepare to face Jordan Love at quarterback, Matt LaFleur, Packers coach, decides not to disclose Aaron Rodgers' immunization status. (0:43).
The news that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has tested positive for COVID-19 shocked the NFL world. This was not only because Rodgers stated in August that he had been "immunized" but also because it is his first time testing positive. Rodgers has not been observed publicly following the protocols for unvaccinated NFL athletes since training camp began in July. According to a statement by the league on Wednesday afternoon, the NFL is currently reviewing the situation regarding the Packers.

What's the deal? Rodgers lied to everyone about his vaccination status. Did he break the NFL rules? Did the Packers look the other way or were they? This is our attempt to distinguish fact from fiction. We will outline what we know so far and then go through the league's procedures, possible fines and when Rodgers might be returning to Green Bay.

What has happened?

Rodgers was positive for COVID-19 Wednesday morning, and the Packers confirmed that Jordan Love, the backup quarterback, will play Sunday against the Chiefs. This sequence showed that Rodgers was not vaccinated.


Players who are unvaccinated and test positive for a disease must be isolated for at least 10 days. However, vaccinated players can return to play after a positive test if they have two negative results within 24 hours. As long as they are not symptomatic, Rodgers would still be able to play Sunday if they had vaccinated.

Rodgers didn't say that he was vaccinated.

No. Green Bay reporter asked him in August if he'd been vaccinated against COVID-19. He replied, "Yeah, yes, I have been immunized."

What is the difference?

At the time, no one believed so. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), vaccination is "the act of injecting a vaccine into the body in order to protect against a particular disease." The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines immunization as "a process whereby a person is protected against a disease by vaccination."

Rodgers' reply could be interpreted as Rodgers believing he was protected from COVID-19, even though he did not explicitly state that he had received an approved vaccine.

He thought he was protected from COVID-19.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN reports that Rodgers sought an alternative treatment, and then petitioned for the NFL to declare him vaccinated. The NFL rejected Rodgers' request, citing the specific language in the NFL-NFLPA deal that was reached this summer.

What was the agreement about vaccination?

There were many paths to achieving "fully vaccinated" status. These include:

14 days after a two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccination

14 days after a Johnson & Johnson vaccination.

If the player has also tested positive for any vaccine after August 26, one shot of any vaccine is required.

Rodgers had to comply with protocols for all unvaccinated players, even if one of the outcomes was not reached.

What are these protocols?

Here are a number of them. They require daily testing and the wearing of an elevated mask. These rules are almost identical to those that were followed by coaches and players during the 2020 season before vaccines became available.

The NFL/NFLPA have compiled their COVID-19 protocols this summer, as others have pointed out. When it comes down to it, the rules are very simple for people who have been vaccinated, but many of 2020 rules are still applicable for those who have not. Cheat sheet: Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) June 16, 2021

These are the only rules that unvaccinated players have to follow?

No. Unvaccinated players cannot be grouped together with more than three coaches, players and other members of the football operations staff.

Rodgers didn't go to a Halloween party as John Wick?

Rodgers certainly dressed up as John Wick. Marcedes Lewis, a teammate, posted a video of Rodgers dancing to Instagram. It was not possible to determine whether the other two were colleagues from that video.

Aren't there protocols that say unvaccinated athletes must wear masks indoors at the team facility and at the stadium on game day?

They do. Rodgers is not wearing one at indoor press conferences with reporters at Lambeau Field where the Packers practice and play. The Packers have interviewed unvaccinated players via Zoom in some cases, but Rodgers has always been present in person.

Rodgers was not wearing a mask while watching games. He wasn't supposed to.

This summer, the NFL-NFLPA rules have been amended. Unvaccinated players are not allowed to wear masks at games if they are inactive. This means they cannot play in uniform. According to current protocols, active players are encouraged to wear masks but not required. The Packers have not required active players to wear masks while on the road.

Was that the preseason?

Yes, the preseason was meant to be included. Yes, Rodgers was not active for any of the three preseason Packers games. Based on the protocols, Rodgers should've been mask for those games.

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Was he ever disciplined by the NFL for this behavior?

The league has not yet responded to any questions. On the first offense of violating COVID-19 protocols by a player, the NFL can fine them at most $14,650, and a maximum of $50,000.

Is Rodgers paid when he is alone?

Yes. Unvaccinated players can cause an outbreak that results in a forfeit. This is the only way a game-check could be lost. In such a case, neither team would pay any player.

It sounds as though Rodgers violated multiple COVID-19 protocols.

Soon enough, we'll find out. The Packers may face even more responsibility. Late Wednesday afternoon, the NFL released a statement stating that the NFL does not have the primary responsibility for COVID-19 protocol enforcement. The NFL pledged to "review" the matter and pointed out that previous protocols violations had led to teams being disciplined. The New Orleans Saints were fined $500,000, the Las Vegas Raiders $1500,000, the Tennessee Titans ($350,000), the New England Patriots $350,000, and the Baltimore Ravens $250,000. The Saints were also denied a seventh-round draft selection, while the Raiders were forced to lose a sixth-rounder.

What should Rodgers and Packers be worried about?

Rodgers' long-term health is the most important thing you should be concerned about. It is possible that Rodgers will return to the team on the same day as the Packers' game against the Seahawks, Nov. 14. It's possible that he will miss two games. This is assuming that he tests negative at the 10-day mark.

The surprise at Rodgers' inability to get vaccinated was the topic of much of the conversation Wednesday, but everyone involved should have their health as a top priority.