Monday, December 6, 2021

Explainer: How Rogers and the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols work

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will miss Sunday’s game in Kansas City after being placed in the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. Since he is considered not vaccinated, he must be isolated for at least 10 days.

Here’s an explanation of the NFL’s protocol and a breakdown of Rodgers’ case:

Who is responsible for knowing the player’s vaccine status?

Each of the 32 NFL teams. Players must present proof of vaccination to the team, not the league office.

What is considered adequate vaccination?

Players must take two shots of one of the vaccinations approved under NFL protocol — Pfizer or Moderna — or one dose of Johnson & Johnson. As explained by the league’s chief medical officer, Dr. Alan Sills, players who have previously been documented with having COVID-19 can be considered protected from a shot of those vaccines.

A player is also likely to have antibody levels that show a previous case of the coronavirus, and they can get a shot at being protected.

“We have very clear protocols on vaccination requirements and what can be considered as fully immunized under those protocols,” Sills said.

NFL protocols, created in conjunction with the players’ union, oversee not only team facilities but stadiums, hotels and any travel arrangements.

Did the NFL Know Aaron Rodgers Wasn’t Vaccinated?

Yes, as did the Packers and the NFL Players Association.

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Rodgers contacted the NFLPA over the summer to approve the treatment he had taken, details of which have not been made public. The union’s medical director, Dr. Thom Meyer, consulted with Sills and agreed with infectious disease advisors jointly by the NFL and the union. They determined that Rodgers’ treatment did not qualify or meet the protocol to be considered a vaccine.

Rodgers is required to wear a mask at the Packers facility and follow protocols designed for unvaccinated players. He is one of only about 5% of the league’s players who have not been vaccinated.

Will anyone be punished?

Very likely — if the NFL’s investigation, including watching a Halloween party attended by Rodgers — finds a breach of protocol.

Packers will be most responsible for not terminating any violations. They can be fined and the draft options taken away. For example, the Las Vegas Raiders were fined $500,000 last year — when no vaccinations were available — for breaking protocol. But none of the teams lost their picks in the 2021 draft for COVID-19 breaches.

Rodgers, naturally, can also be sanctioned by the NFL. This would probably involve a fine rather than a suspension.

Sills is very clear that enforcement of the protocol is “serious business”.


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