In spite of being an all-star player in one of football’s most prestigous teams, Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been fined $14,650 for breaching COVID-19 protocols, and his team has been hit with a $300k penalty following violations of guidelines agreed upon by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. It’s not, perhaps, the biggest hit to players and teams who rake in millions of dollars but it has also made a real impact on their reputation, which may well prove to be harder to pay off.
It’s not simply a matter of Rodgers not being COVID 19 compliant that has caused such a huge scandal, though. Rodgers, who was last year’s NFL MVP, had given the impression that he had been vaccinated in previous interviews on the matter and has since stated that he was unable to take the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines due to an allergy to an ingredient present within them and was worried about side effects in the Johnson & Johnson version. He lied, in other words, earning the ire even of his more steadfast fans. At the same time, the Packers have also come under fire for not doing their bit to ensure that Rodgers’ claims of vaccinations were, in fact, true.
However, and perhaps importantly for fans of the Packers and those who may have a bet on the team’s progress this season, Rodgers will not be banned for any matches and is set to play this Sunday as Green Bay take on the Seattle Seahawks as they look to get back to winning ways following their loss at Kansas City in week nine. For all that fans may be betrayed by Aaron Rogers’ actions, the idea of the Packers proceeding without him in some of this year’s most crucial games is all but impossible to properly fathom.
The Packers are already set up well to progress into the post-season, with their 7-2 record putting them way ahead of the competition in the NFC North, and any such major shifts to the team, let alone losing their star player, would be disastrous for them. With Rodgers still in play, though, they continue to be an odds-on favorite. The current odds at www.sidelines.io show you can grab a very enticing (+1200) on the Lambeau Field side securing their first Super Bowl win since 2010, and with Rodgers free to run their offense, those odds are very tempting indeed.
Rodgers, whose lying about taking a vaccine ended up contracting the virus, has now recovered from his COVID-19 diagnosis and is raring to go but is aware that he had misled many with his stance and comments in recent weeks;
“I made some comments that people might have felt were misleading. And to anybody who felt misled by those comments, I take full responsibility for those comments,”
“I understand that this issue, in general, is very charging to a lot of people because we are talking about public health. I totally respect that. I made a decision that was in my best interest based on consulting with my doctors. And I understand that not everybody is going to understand that necessarily. But I respect everybody’s opinion.”
These comments have been heavily criticized by many who believe that Rodgers was either failing to show an adequate amount of remorse for such a bald faced lie or flat out didn’t understand the reason why people were and are so angry with him. It’s not only that he claims he listened to his doctors – if that actually is the case and it may not be – or even that he was careless with his and other players’ health, but that he lies about it to his team, to the NFL and the fans.
On the other hand, his arrogance is not entirely unearned. If the Packers wanted a glimpse into how they’d fare without Rodgers in the long-term, then their 13-7 defeat at Kansas City, their lowest point-score in eight games, would have been a wake-up call in terms of how much of a replacement Jordan Love is capable of delivering at the present time. Love us a fine player and may well become a true force in the years ahead but right now, Rodgers is the Packers’ most important player, and that’s something that everyone involved is fully aware of at this point.
It’s clear that the Packers want to move on from the bad press, the lower morale, and the financial knock and are keen to accept their respective punishments and move on to doing what they do best: playing football and winning games. This was made clear with the team’s president Mark Murphy stating:
“We respect the League’s findings, and we recognize the importance of adherence to the COVID protocols to keep our team and organization safe and healthy,”
“We will continue to educate the team regarding the importance of the protocols and remain committed to operating within the protocols.”
It appears, though, that Aaron Rodgers is an individual who will always lead the news cycle. Over the summer, the press was abuzz with stories as to whether the 37-year-old would be leaving, only for the former Super Bowl champion to stick with a team he has represented since 2005. More than this, though, is that Rodgers is that mix of being an amazing athlete who also knows he’s an amazing athlete. He is one of the best and most notorious players in all the NFL and that means that though he may cause issues with his team, he can get away with far more than most players can and he uses this to his advantage.
Still, even he is not completely safe from falling fowl of the NFL’s chief deciders or the sponsors that bring in so much of that cash, and he will need to be careful not to push his luck beyond breaking point. It would be a major loss to his team, to the NFL and to Rodgers himself if he was forced out of the organization.