The Aaron Rodgers news cycle today has been wild.
Rodgers testing positive for COVID-19 and going into league protocols wasn’t something I was expecting to take over a news cycle. Neither was the storyline of Rodgers being secretly unvaccinated, leading reporters to believe he was based on cagey commentary saying (via Rob Demovsky): “I’ve been immunized” and adding he wouldn’t judge teammates who didn’t get the vaccination. It has opened a bag of worms in terms of all sorts of discussions.
Was Rodgers misleading the public to avoid the protocols the league put down this season? Has Rodgers been facing discipline for not wearing a face covering in indoor settings with media? After all, that is a violation of protocol? Have there been other violations? Is there anything else that the league and its teams have been hiding?
But it has. And in a new and bizarre way:
Major add to the Rodgers story here from @RobDemovsky.
This summer, Rodgers petitioned the NFL to have an “alternative treatment” count as a vaccination. The NFL denied his request and has considered him unvaccinated since the start of the season.https://t.co/GybsVt7RJc pic.twitter.com/LXufOZlMLe
— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) November 3, 2021
#Packers QB Aaron Rodgers received homeopathic treatment from his personal doctor to raise his antibody levels and asked the NFL to review his status. The NFL, NFLPA and joint docs ruled him as unvaccinated. Now, he has COVID-19.
More here: https://t.co/YtnH67bn18
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 3, 2021
So … on top of all that, it turns out Rodgers sought treatment for an alternative from his personal doctor to getting the COVID vaccine, was turned down by the NFL and NFLPA doctors, and now has COVID-19 for his trouble. I have nothing to add to this paragraph other than my mind is blown as I struggle to wrap my brain around the gymnastics happening in the sentences before this one.
For what it’s worth, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport told the Pat McAfee Show that the Packers have long known Rodgers was unvaccinated. And in turn, Rodgers and the team has been following league protocols. That feels like it should be good news. Although, admittedly, I’m unsure where throwing a Halloween party while the team was having a COVID surge falls under that umbrella. Even with that put aside, one Packers reporter notes Head Coach Matt LaFleur didn’t answer questions asking if Rodgers was skirting protocols by not wearing mask when speaking with media (which is a protocol violation). All right, so this feels like we’re having conflicting information regarding violation of protocols because of course the NFL’s health and safety protocols seem to be up for interpretation. So many of the on-field rules fall in the same category.
And in the end, it’s led the Packers to this:
Veteran QB Blake Bortles is flying to Green Bay with the expectation he will sign to the Packers’ practice squad and be eligible for the 53-man roster Sunday, per source. Bortles was on the Packers’ roster this summer until Aaron Rodgers reported.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 3, 2021
Rodgers’ positive COVID result has also trickled down, resulting in backup QB Kurt Benkert’s placement into league protocols. With that leaving Jordan Love as the only quarterback on the roster, the team is bringing in Blake Bortles as a back. Yes, that Blake Bortles. The one who spent time in Packers camp in the offseason while Rodgers was flirting with not returning. In other words, not only are the Packers moving onto Jordan Love on short notice, they need to bring in Bortles as a backup. That’s a heckuva drop-off from Aaron Freaking Rodgers.
And in case you need perspective as to why this is a big deal, here ya go:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 3, 2021
Ultimately, this might not hurt the Packers too much. At least, not in the short term. Green Bay is 7-1 and sitting atop the NFC North. They have a 98 percent chance of making the postseason, per FiveThirtyEight’s forecast. And Football Outsiders gives them a 96 percent chance of getting in on the playoff action. But imagine if this were to happen ahead of a week where the Packers are playing a game of consequence for seeding. Or in an even more high-leverage situation, such as the week of a playoff game. I doubt this is the last we’ll hear of this storyline.