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Aaron Rodgers tests positive for COVID-19



News that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19, is unvaccinated and will miss this weekend’s game against the Chiefs shocked the NFL world on Wednesday — and not just because he said in August that he had already been “immunized.” Since training camp opened in late July, Rodgers had not been publicly observed to be following any of the obvious protocols for unvaccinated NFL players, as agreed upon this summer by the NFL and NFL Players Association. The NFL is currently reviewing the situation with the Packers, per a league statement on Wednesday afternoon.

So what’s the deal here? Did Rodgers mislead everyone about his vaccination status? Was he flouting NFL rules? Were the Packers or the league looking the other way? What follows is our best attempt to separate fact, assumption and outright fiction in this evolving story. We lay out what we definitively know about the situation right now and run through the league’s protocols involved, potential fines that could be in play and when Rodgers could be back on the field for Green Bay.

What happened?

Rodgers tested positive Wednesday morning for COVID-19, and the Packers confirmed that backup QB Jordan Love will start Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs. That sequence made clear that Rodgers is unvaccinated.

Why is that?

Unvaccinated players who test positive must isolate at least 10 days, even if they are asymptomatic. Vaccinated players, however, can return following a positive test as soon as they produce two negative tests with 24 hours in between, as long as they are asymptomatic. In other words, Rodgers would at least have a chance to play Sunday if he were vaccinated.

Didn’t Rodgers say he had been vaccinated?

No. In August, a reporter in Green Bay asked him if he had been vaccinated for COVID-19. He answered by saying, in part: “Yeah, I’ve been immunized.”

Is there a difference?

No one thought so at the time. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines vaccination as “the act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce protection from a specific disease.” Its definition for immunization is “a process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination.”

So if you want to parse words in retrospect, you could interpret Rodgers’ response to mean he believed himself to be protected against COVID-19 without overtly saying he received an approved vaccination.

Why did he think he was protected against COVID-19?

According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Rodgers pursued an alternative treatment and then petitioned the NFL to recognize him as vaccinated. The NFL refused, citing the clear language of the NFL-NFLPA agreement reached this summer.

What did that agreement say about vaccination?

It offered multiple paths toward a “fully vaccinated’ status. They include:

  • 14 days past a two-shot regimen of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine

  • 14 days past a one-shot regime of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

  • One shot of any vaccine if the player had also tested positive after August 26, has a total antibody level of 100 U/mL or greater and a positive antibody test to the COVID IgG nucleocapsid protein.

Absent one of the outcomes, Rodgers was required to follow protocols for any other unvaccinated player.

What are those protocols?

Many of them are listed here. They include daily testing and elevated mask wearing, and they are overall nearly identical to the rules that players and coaches followed during the 2020 season, before vaccines were available.

Are those the only rules unvaccinated players must follow?

No. An unvaccinated player, for example, can’t gather in a group of more than three players, coaches and other members of the football operation staff.

Didn’t Rodgers attend a Halloween party dressed as John Wick?

Rodgers definitely dressed up as John Wick. Video of him dancing surfaced on the Instagram story of teammate Marcedes Lewis. From that video, at least, it couldn’t be determined whether the other people were teammates.

Don’t the protocols also say unvaccinated players must wear masks at all times when indoors at the team facility or at the stadium on game days?

They do, and Rodgers has not been wearing one during indoor press conferences with reporters at Lambeau Field, where the Packers practice and play games. In some instances, the Packers have conducted interviews with unvaccinated players over Zoom, but Rodgers’ have all been in-person.

Rodgers hasn’t been wearing a mask on the sideline during games. Wasn’t he supposed to?

The NFL-NFLPA rules were amended this summer. Masks are required for unvaccinated players at games only if they are inactive, meaning they are not in uniform and not eligible to play. Active players are encouraged but not required to wear masks unless local or state guidelines require it, according to the current protocols. None of the four teams that the Packers have played on the road so far have required active players to wear masks on sidelines.

Did that include the preseason?

Yes, the preseason was supposed to be included. And yes, Rodgers was inactive for all three of the Packers’ preseason games. So based on any reading of the protocols, Rodgers should have been masked for those games.



Stephen A. Smith, Keyshawn Johnson and Kimberley Martin react to Aaron Rodgers testing positive for COVID-19.

Did the NFL discipline him for any of this?

As of this moment, the league has not responded to questions about that. The NFL has the ability to fine players at least $14,650 on first offense of violating COVID-19 protocols, with a maximum of $50,000.

Does Rodgers get paid while he is in isolation?

Yes. The only reason a game check could be lost is if an unvaccinated player sparks an outbreak that leads to a forfeit. In that case, no player from either team would be paid.

Well, it sure sounds like Rodgers was in violation of multiple COVID-19 protocols.

We’ll know soon enough. Ultimately, the Packers could face more culpability. The NFL issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon noting pointedly that “the primary responsibility” for enforcing COVID-19 protocols is with the team, not the league. It pledged to “review the matter” and noted that teams have been disciplined in the past for protocol violations. Among the teams fined were the New Orleans Saints ($500,000), Las Vegas Raiders ($500,000), Tennessee Titans ($350,000), New England Patriots ($350,000) and Baltimore Ravens ($250,000). The Saints were also stripped of a seventh-round draft pick, and the Raiders lost a sixth-rounder.

How worried should Rodgers and the Packers be?

The most important thing to worry about is Rodgers’ health in both the short- and long-term. The best-case scenario is that he will re-join the team the day before the Packers’ Nov. 14 game against the Seahawks. So it’s not out of the question that he could miss two games, and that’s assuming he tests negative and is asymptomatic at the 10-day mark.

Chatter throughout the day Wednesday centered on the surprise of Rodgers’ unvaccinated status, but the health of all involved should be the top priority.

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Conditional 2022 second-round pick Colts sent to Eagles for Carson Wentz on track for first round



The conditional 2022 second-round pick that the Indianapolis Colts sent to the Philadelphia Eagles last offseason for quarterback Carson Wentz is on track to become a first-round pick.

The Eagles need Wentz to play 75% of the Colts’ offensive snaps this season to turn the pick into a first-round selection in next year’s draft, a mark Indianapolis is on track to hit Sunday in Houston.

The second-rounder could also become a first-round pick if Wentz plays less than 70% of the snaps but the Colts go to the playoffs.

As it currently stands, Wentz has played 747 of the Colts’ 759 offensive snaps this season — 98%. The Colts average about 63 plays per game, putting them on pace to run about 1,075 plays this season. If the Colts maintain that same average over their last five games, Wentz could clear the 75% mark by playing every snap on Sunday.

Wentz, 28, has thrown for 2,790 yards this season with 21 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Colts enter Sunday’s game 6-6.

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Los Angeles Rams not optimistic RB Darrell Henderson (thigh) will play



The Los Angeles Rams will test running back Darrell Henderson Jr and his injured thigh before Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the team is not optimistic about him being able to play, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

Jaguars running back James Robinson, who is listed as questionable for Sunday due to heel and knee injuries, plans to try to play, a source told ESPN. Robinson has been hobbled for weeks with the injuries, but was feeling better Saturday.

Henderson is officially listed as questionable with a thigh injury. The Rams’ top running back, Henderson has rushed for 648 yards this season with five touchdowns.

If Henderson is not able to go, Sony Michel is expected to start for the Rams. Michel has rushed for 305 yards and a touchdown since he was traded to the Rams before the season.

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Arizona Cardinals expect Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins to play vs. Chicago Bears, sources say



Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, listed as questionable for Sunday due to his lingering ankle injury, is expected to start vs. the Chicago Bears, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, also listed as questionable due to a hamstring issue, is likely to play vs. the Bears, as well. But the veteran could be used more sparingly than usual due to his injury and potential weather conditions, a source told Schefter.

In the week leading up to the Bears game, coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals took their familiar cautious approach to Murray’s status, considering his high left ankle sprain. On Friday, the coach said his quarterback’s status would be a game-time decision, in part because of strategy and in part because the memory of last year’s tailspin in the final nine games is still fresh in Kingsbury’s memory.

Murray was “better this week,” Kingsbury said, adding he’s hopeful that Murray will feel good and “be ready to roll.” Murray hasn’t played since spraining his ankle in the final moments of a Week 8 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Arizona heads into Week 13 with a 9-2 record, the best in the NFL, and owns the No. 1 seed in the NFC and first place in the NFC West.

Last year’s late-season tailspin, when Arizona went 3-6 after starting 5-2, in part because of multiple injuries to Murray, has also played a factor in Kingsbury being ultra-cautious with Murray.

“I just think we want to finish the right way this season and we didn’t last year,” Kingsbury said. “So, we’re just trying to be smart about it.”

Kingsbury hasn’t been surprised by how long Murray’s ankle has taken to heal because high ankle sprains are “tricky. Everybody knows that.”

Hopkins wasn’t on the field for the open portion of practice Friday after being limited Wednesday and Thursday.

“We’re just being smart,” Kingsbury said. “We want to make sure he feels really good for the stretch run, and so we’ll see how he progresses, run him on Sunday and see if he can go.”

Hopkins said having the last two weeks off because of the bye helped him “a lot.”

“Rest is key,” he said.

Hopkins, who had missed two games in his entire career before missing the last three, doesn’t think he’ll be rusty whenever he returns, and he isn’t concerned about his hamstring responding to him playing at full speed.

“I know what I can do out there when I’m healthy,” he said. “So, go out there and do my best to help this team win.”

ESPN Staff Writer Josh Weinfuss contributed to this report.

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