The NFL has considered Rodgers as unvaccinated since the start of the season, sources confirmed to ESPN and as first reported by NFL Network.
Rodgers was placed on the league’s reserve/COVID-19 list along with cornerback Isaac Yiadom on Wednesday, and the NFL said it would look into how the Packers have handled the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
Under league protocol, if Rodgers tests positive and is unvaccinated, he must quarantine for a minimum of 10 days and cannot return until Nov. 13 at the earliest, if he remains asymptomatic.
Rodgers, 37, had an alternate treatment prior to the start of training camp, sources told ESPN, and he then petitioned the NFL for that treatment to allow him to be considered the same as someone who received one of the approved vaccinations. After a lengthy back-and-forth, the league, the players union and an infectious disease consultant approved by both parties heard Rodgers’ case for an exemption and ruled that he would not get the same consideration and would be considered unvaccinated.
Sources said Rodgers follows masking protocols while interacting with players and coaches inside the team’s headquarters at Lambeau Field. However, Rodgers does not wear a mask while in the media auditorium during his weekly and postgame news conferences. The Packers have put other unvaccinated players on Zoom instead of at in-person media sessions.
The NFL on Wednesday said there were “aware of the current situation in Green Bay” and would be reviewing the matter with the Packers.
“The primary responsibility for enforcement of the COVID protocols within club facilities rests with each club,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “Failure to properly enforce the protocols has resulted in discipline being assessed against individual clubs in the past.”
Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, said this past August that he was “immunized” when asked about his vaccination status.
“You know, 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 who have made statements,” Rodgers said at the time. “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 are guys that’ve been vaccinated that have contracted COVID. It’s an interesting issue that I think we’re going to see played out the entire season.”
He later added: “I think I like to learn about everything that I’m doing, and there was a lot of research that even went into that. But like I said, there’s been people that have tested positive, and I think it’s only vaccinated people here. It’s going to be interesting to see how things work moving forward. Obviously there could be some issues with vaccinated people only testing every couple weeks and then non-vaccinated testing every day.”
Packers coach Matt LaFleur on Wednesday would not comment on any player or coach’s vaccination status. He was asked whether Rodgers’ use of the word “immunized” may have been misleading.
“That’s a great question for Aaron,” LaFleur said. “I’m not going to comment on it.”
LaFleur said he did not know if Rodgers had any symptoms and talked to him only briefly on Wednesday.
Jordan Love is in line to make his first career start against Kansas City in Rodgers’ absence.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes wished a quick recovery for Rodgers.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” Mahomes said about not facing off against Rodgers on Sunday. “I’ve watched his game for a long time. I feel I play a similar style. You always want to compete against the best. Hopefully he’s healthy and it’s not too bad. I’m sure he’ll come back from it stronger than he was before.”
Veteran quarterback Blake Bortles is flying to Green Bay on Wednesday with the expectation that he will be signed to the practice squad and be eligible for the 53-man roster on Sunday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Bortles was on the Packers’ roster this summer until Rodgers reported to training camp.
The Packers (7-1) are riding a seven-game winning streak and are tied with the Rams and Cardinals for the best record in the NFC.
Rodgers is the Packers’ second star player to test positive in the past week. Receiver Davante Adams was out last week because of a positive test and missed last Thursday’s win over the Arizona Cardinals. LaFleur is hopeful that Adams can return by Thursday.
Receiver Allen Lazard also missed last week’s game after being deemed a close contact of Adams. Practice squad quarterback Kurt Benkert on Tuesday tweeted that he had COVID-19 and was later placed on the reserve list. And the team was still without defensive coordinator Joe Barry on Monday because of COVID-19 protocols.
Despite the positive test for Rodgers, LaFleur said the Packers are not currently in the league’s intensive protocols, although they have been following many of the masking and distancing rules.
LaFleur also said he’s confident that all protocols have been followed by players and staff throughout the season.
“I watch what these guys do,” LaFleur said. “I can only speak to our football space, but yeah, absolutely. We’ve got cameras everywhere. I think our guys do an outstanding job with it. And it’s just unfortunate. It’s not like this thing can’t happen to anybody. It’s happened to a lot of people outside of this building.”
Running back Aaron Jones, whose father died April 6 from of complications from COVID-19, said he did not question the decisions of teammates concerning the vaccine nor did he call into question Rodgers’ leadership.
“I don’t think it’s a selfish decision [to not be vaccinated],” Jones said. “I mean, there’s guys across the league who are not vaccinated. And to say that they’re not committed to their team, I think that that’s not true. He’s our leader, like you said. He’s 100% committed to this team, just like anybody else is in this locker room.”
Love got all the No. 1 quarterback reps during offseason while Rodgers skipped all team activities.
“Well, we’ll find out, right?” LaFleur said when asked if Love was ready to start. “I know he’s been working hard every day and I think [quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator] Luke Getsy does a great job with him, getting him prepared. Certainly the majority of his reps have taken place on the scout team, but that’s something that we try to, when we’re doing those scout teams in practice, you try to take whatever’s on the card or whatever play that they’re running and put it into our terms to help the development process. So, I know he takes every rep very seriously.”
The line for Sunday’s game has moved drastically at Caesars Sportsbook. The Chiefs had opened as 2 ½-point favorites, which had dropped to pick ’em as of Wednesday morning. However, after the news of Rodgers’ positive test, the Chiefs are now 8-point favorites with a total of 48 points scored, down from what had been 55 points as of Sunday.