Aaron Rodgers, Allen Lazard and Packers fined by NFL over COVID-19 protocol violations
GREEN BAY - The NFL has fined the Green Bay Packers, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard for violations of COVID-19 protocols, the league announced Tuesday.
ESPN first reported the fines.
The Packers have been fined $300,000, while Rodgers and Lazard were each fined $14,650. In a statement from the league office, violations were outlined as such:
“Press conferences. There’s no argument that Aaron Rodgers should have been wearing a mask at press conferences.
“The league reviewed substantial video from club facility. While the review showed a few isolated instances of Rodgers and Allen Lazard failing to wear a mask in facility, they were substantially compliant otherwise. There was no widespread or systemic mask-wearing violations.
“The club is also fined for the Halloween party. The team didn’t sanction the party but they were aware of it after it took place and did not discipline Rodgers or Lazard and failed to report their violations to the league.”
Rodgers' and Lazard’s fines stem from the Halloween party. The event took place Halloween weekend, after the Packers had a Thursday night win against the Arizona Cardinals. Numerous players were seen in social media posts at an indoor venue with the attendance number exceeding the number of people unvaccinated players are allowed to be around outside of the team facility, without a mask.
The club—and specifically Rodgers—came under the microscope following the quarterback’s positive COVID-19 test last Wednesday. The positive test resulted in him being put into quarantine protocols, thus missing this past Sunday’s game, a 13-7 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs.
After Rodgers test result was reported, it was revealed the reigning MVP is unvaccinated against the coronavirus. That news in and of itself would not normally be of huge concern, except in August, Rodgers had insinuated he was vaccinated. When asked if he was, he responded, “Yeah, I’m immunized.”
Furthermore, while in public, Rodgers had not abided by the protocols agreed upon by the NFL and NFLPA (Player’s Association) that stated unvaccinated players must wear masks in press conferences and the team facility, while also setting strict protocols about what unvaccinated players can and can’t do outside of the team facility during the season.
The earliest Rodgers will be allowed back in the Packers football facility is this Saturday. He has been participating in meetings over Zoom. Head Coach Matt LaFleur said Sunday that if Rodgers is cleared, he will be the starting quarterback this weekend against the Seattle Seahawks.
Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy issued this statement:
“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.”
The Packers weren't the first team to feel the league's wrath over protocol violations.
The Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots have been slapped with fines ranging from $250,000 to $700,000 for COVID-19 protocol violations and in the case of the Saints forfeiture of a 2022 sixth-round draft choice. All the large fines were the result of multiple violations during the 2020 season and outbreaks that caused the NFL to move games.