NFL will probe Packers' adherence to COVID-19 protocols after Aaron Rodgers' positive test

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GREEN BAY - The NFL will be examining the way the Green Bay Packers adhere to the league’s COVID-19 protocols after quarterback Aaron Rodgers tested positive for the virus.

A source confirmed an NFL Network report that Rodgers was not vaccinated and thus subject to much tougher rules about social distancing, mask wearing and testing.

 There were abundant photos on social media of a Halloween party that Rodgers  apparently attended over the weekend, possibly violating a rule that states unvaccinated players “are prohibited from gathering in groups of more than three” players outside of the facility or while on the road.

In addition, Rodgers has been attending news conferences without a mask despite the fact he is required to wear one indoors at all times.

The NFL requires teams to provide at least 30 days of video surveillance of the facility so that the NFL can check that teams are following protocols. They can fine players $14,650 for each offense and punish clubs however severely they wish.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' adherence to COVID-19 protocols will be examined by the NFL.

At the maximum, a repeat offender can face increased discipline, including conduct detrimental to the team with a maximum fine amount equal to one week’s salary and/or suspension without pay for a period of up to four weeks.

In a statement, the NFL indicated it would be auditing the Packers.

“The primary responsibility for enforcement of the COVID Protocols within Club facilities rests with each club,” the statement said.  “Failure to properly enforce the protocols has resulted in discipline being assessed against individual clubs in the past.  The league is aware of the current situation in Green Bay and will be reviewing with the Packers.”

Among the other rules Rodgers would have to follow as an unvaccinated player are:

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* Saunas and steam rooms may not be used.

* Locker must not be within six feet of another players’.

* Must be at least 6 feet away from other players while eating in cafeteria.

* Public and private transportation not related to the game are prohibited on the road.

* Cannot leave the hotel and eat at a restaurant while on the road.

Coach Matt LaFleur said the league has never told the Packers that they have violated protocols and said he was confident they had not.

“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.

“It's unfortunate. And it's not like this thing can't happen to anybody. It's happened to a lot of people outside of this building.”

There are a boatload of violations that fall under the discipline article of the protocol agreement the NFL negotiated with the player’s union.

Among them are:

* Failing or refusing to fully cooperate with an investigation led by the NFL Management Council and/or NFLPA (one week’s salary up to $50,000).

* Refusal to submit to required virus testing under the Screening and Testing Protocol ($50,000).

* Attending an indoor bar (other than to pick up food, or unless player is wearing PPE and there are no more than 10 people in the bar) ($14,650).

* House gatherings of more than 15 people without the player and all guests wearing masks or PPE or where social distancing for the more than 15 people is impossible ($14,650).

Packers players supportive

 LeFluer met with his team first thing Wednesday morning to make them aware of the Rodgers news. 

Running back Aaron Jones was at the back of the room so “I seen the back on everybody's head so didn't really get a good gist of it. Nobody like made any noises or anything,” Jones said.

But defensive lineman Kenny Clark had a better feel for the reaction, especially when he arrived for the early-morning team meeting and saw empty seats.

“Just shock, just shock you know; come in and you know, guys aren't there. More shocked than anything,” he said. “It’s just crazy, man, and that next-man-up mentality, but you know that’s the leader of our team, so it was just crazy.”

Jones, who has had COVID, downplayed the news, saying “it happens” as the global pandemic continues to find its place among the public.

"It’s going around, it happens. I’ve had COVID, many of the others in the locker room has had COVID. Just unfortunate.

"Our best receiver (Davante Adams) last week got it. So, I mean, it’s going around and just kind of take the precautionary measures that we can to stop it.”

Packers' roster has healthy glow

Other than the absence of Rodgers this week, the Packers' roster will enter Kansas City from a healthier place than it has been in the past few weeks.

Cornerback Kevin King was a full participant as he continues working back from a shoulder injury that has forced him to miss the past three games, a sign he should be available Sunday barring a setback. Receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling also practiced Wednesday, and he could be headed back from injured reserve this week after missing the past five games because of a hamstring injury.

Defensive linemen Dean Lowry and Kingsley Keke did not practice. Lowry has a hamstring injury, while Keke is in the concussion protocol. Defensive lineman Jack Heflin also did not practice because of an illness.

Offensive lineman Dennis Kelly (back) was a limited participant.

Tight end Josiah Deguara (finger) was a full participant.

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