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Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers says he may have misled people with his COVID-19 vaccination status but stands by his comments



GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers said there’s only a “small possibility” he won’t play in the Green Bay Packers‘ next game, but before he got into football topics, he acknowledged he may have misled people about his vaccination status — but stood by his decision — and said he hoped the reaction will be the same as always when he’s introduced at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

In his weekly appearance Tuesday on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Rodgers attempted to clarify some of the points he made last Friday, which drew criticism both in and out of the sports arena.

Rodgers remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list after testing positive last week, when it was also revealed that he was unvaccinated despite him telling reporters in August that he had been “immunized.” The earliest he can be cleared is Saturday, one day before the Packers host the Seattle Seahawks.

“I made some comments that people might have felt were misleading,” Rodgers told McAfee. “To anybody who felt misled by those comments, I take full responsibility for those comments. I’m excited about feeling better. I’m excited about moving forward and hopefully getting back with my team and getting back to doing what I do best, and that’s playing ball. It’s been tough being away from it. I’ve been obviously dealing with the COVID, and I feel like I’m on the other side of it, thankfully, and I’m thankful to still be able to have something to look forward to this weekend, hopefully.”

While he said he feels “really good,” he acknowledged that there are some protocols and checkups that he will have to clear in order to play on Sunday.

“I just do believe there’s a health hurdle that I have to [clear] as far as like movement and sweating and getting into it, making sure my body, especially heart, is fine with physical exertion,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers said he stands by his decision not to get vaccinated for the reasons he detailed last week, including what he said was allergy to the mRNA vaccines. He reiterated that he continues to consult with many doctors and friends who have experienced COVID — and not just podcast host Joe Rogan.

But he doesn’t want to be considered an unofficial spokesperson for the unvaccinated.

“I’m an athlete; I’m not an activist,” Rodgers said. “So I’m going to get back to doing what I do best, and that’s playing ball. I shared my opinion; it wasn’t one that was come to frivolously. It involved a lot of study and what I felt like was in my best interest for my body.”

Rodgers said he doesn’t read or listen to a lot of the comments made about him in general but admitted he was aware of some of the negative reaction toward him in recent days.

“I’m human, stuff can definitely hurt your feelings,” he said. “But, look, I shared an opinion that is polarizing. I get it. And I misled some people about my status, which I take full responsibility of those comments. But, in the end, I have to stay true to who I am and what I’m about. And I stand behind the things that I said.

“I have a ton of empathy for people who have been going through the worst part of this pandemic, which has affected all of us in different ways, but so many people with, like I said, lives that were lost, lives that were forever changed, and I have a ton of compassion and empathy for those people. I have tried to help out as much as I can. The other stuff is so out of my control, and there’s going to be people that don’t like you, and hate you for things you said or might not understand what you said or know what you said and might’ve just seen a headline. And that’s fine. I believe that people are entitled to their opinion, even if it’s an opinion that’s unfavorable to me.”

The Packers’ seven-game winning streak ended on Sunday, when Jordan Love made his first NFL start. He led just one scoring drive, capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass to Allen Lazard in the fourth quarter of the 13-7 loss at Kansas City, in a game that coach Matt LaFleur blamed on himself for not having a better plan to deal with the Chiefs‘ pass rush.

“I’m proud of Jordan,” Rodgers said. “I thought he hung in there. The only thing I told him during the week was just to trust his feet because he is a very athletic guy. I thought he did a nice job of avoiding sacks, getting out of the pocket, making positive plays out of potential sacks. I might have got sacked in certain situations; he was able to elusively get out of the pocket there and have positive gains.”

Any involvement in game planning and preparations for the Seahawks will have to take place on Zoom until Saturday, and LaFleur on Monday acknowledged that they will have to balance preparing a plan for both Rodgers and Love.

“I have never been through this situation, so it’ll be a great learning experience for all of us, in terms of how we communicate it, how we go out there and execute it,” LaFleur said. “Certainly there could be a situation where we have some specific plays for either quarterback. But I would say by and large, you’re preparing both of them for the way you want to attack a certain defense.”

Assuming Rodgers is cleared, he said he thinks it’s the offense’s turn to be introduced in the game-by-game rotation with the defense. When asked if he thinks the reaction will be any different than in the past, Rodgers said: “I don’t know. I hope not.”

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New York Giants’ Joe Judge points finger at coaching staff after loss to Bucs, mum on Jason Garrett’s status as OC



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Blame the coaches more than the players. That was New York Giants head coach Joe Judge’s message following Monday night’s 30-10 blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.

“You can put that down tonight. Got that?” Judge said after the loss. “You guys can write that tonight. Players have to execute. That is their job, right? It is our job to teach them. It’s their job to go out and execute.

“But we’ve got to make sure we put them in position to have success. That has to be consistent, by the way. So, you can go ahead and write that down. I’m not going to debate that.”

The Giants (3-7) got running back Saquon Barkley and left tackle Andrew Thomas back from injury and wide receiver Kenny Golladay was the healthiest he’s been in weeks. They had most of their weapons on the field together and still managed just one touchdown, and that came when a turnover put the ball at the Tampa Bay 5-yard line.

The second half was noncompetitive, with Bucs quarterback Tom Brady getting most of the fourth quarter off.

“We have to do a better job of scoring points,” Judge said. “I know it sounds pretty obvious and to the point with it. But I’m going to keep it pretty blunt right there. We have to do a better job of putting our players in position to make plays. We have too many good players. We have to put them in better position to capitalize on it. That’s it.”

He later added: “As a player, there are things I would be frustrated with too.”

Golladay, who signed a four-year, $72 million deal this offseason, was targeted twice. He had one catch for 12 yards.

The offense’s lack of production has all eyes on coordinator Jason Garrett. The Giants have scored 30 points once in 26 games since he joined the team.

Judge was asked afterward if he still had faith in his offensive coordinator.

“I have faith in all the people on our team — players, coaches, everyone. We’ll assess everything as a team and make any move we need to going forward,” Judge said.

That wasn’t exactly a resounding stamp of approval. The Giants now have a short Thanksgiving week before facing the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

So will Garrett remain as the offensive coordinator?

“I’m not going to go into it right now,” Judge said.

Quarterback Daniel Jones and Barkley were asked if they had full confidence in their offensive coordinator after the latest dud. They were supportive even after their relatively ineffective performances.

Jones went 23-of-38 passing for 167 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Barkley had 56 total yards on 12 touches in his first game back following an ankle injury. He had missed the previous four games.

“Yes, I believe in [Garrett],” Barkley said. “At the end of the day, like I said, it’s easy to just go and everyone wants to blame the coaches. Sometimes, instead of pointing the finger, you have to look yourself in the mirror.

“As players, we’re not making plays. It is just that simple. We have to go out there and make plays.”

The players say it is on them. Judge says it’s on the coaches. Either way, it is looking like another playoff-less season for New York. The Giants finished 6-10 last season in Judge’s first year as head coach. They have not make the playoffs since 2016. That is also the last time they had a winning record.

Judge insists things will turn — it’s only a matter of time.

“I’m telling you we’re going to put something on the field that you’re going to be proud of. That is on my name. You understand that?” he said. “That is on my name. I am the leader of this team. I’m in charge of this team. That is on me. I don’t point fingers. I don’t make excuses. We’re going to get this right.”

Except he did point the fingers at himself and his coaching staff on Monday night.

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Seattle Seahawks rookie CB Tre Brown might need season-ending surgery, coach Pete Carroll says



SEATTLE — Tre Brown‘s promising rookie season appears to be over.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said early indications are that Brown, Seattle’s starting left cornerback, needs season-ending surgery on the patellar tendon injury he suffered Sunday in Seattle’s 23-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

It happened in the third quarter when Brown was about to contest a third-down throw to A.J. Green. He went down immediately in pain and eventually walked into the locker room with a pronounced limp.

Brown had been a bright spot in Seattle’s dismal 3-7 season. The fourth-round pick from Oklahoma began the year on injured reserve after hurting his knee in the preseason, then had a strong NFL debut in Week 6, which included a third-down stop in overtime of Seattle’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. As Seattle continued to rotate on the left side, Brown continued to play well enough to earn the starting job over Sidney Jones.

Jones started on the right side Sunday as D.J. Reed was inactive. Carroll had no update Monday on when Reed will return but said his knee injury isn’t severe. Carroll was happy with how Jones played against Arizona and said Bless Austin, who came in when Brown went down, was “pretty solid for his first time out” save for a play in which he slipped while breaking on a completion.

Austin, a former starter with the New York Jets, hadn’t played a snap on defense for the Seahawks this season before Sunday. Their cornerback depth also includes John Reid, whom they acquired in a preseason trade with the Houston Texans.

Carroll shed some light on running back Chris Carson‘s upcoming neck surgery, saying it’s his understanding that Carson has a disc issue that needs to be fused. He reiterated that the team has been told that Carson will able to return next season.

“That’s a surgery that can get him back somewhere late in the spring,” Carroll said. “That’s what I’ve heard. So we’ll see what happens with that.”

Carroll described Rashaad Penny‘s hamstring injury from Sunday as “slight.”

Alex Collins has been the Seahawks’ primary running back since Carson last played in Week 4, but they gave Penny his first career start against Arizona. Seattle’s oft-injured first-round pick from 2018 gained 18 yards on the game’s opening play but hurt his hamstring in the process. He got only one more carry and seven more snaps after that.

“We don’t know how extensive it’ll be,” Carroll said. “It’s not a bad injury but there’s something there, so we’ve just got to make sure and take care of him and see what happens.”

Collins and DeeJay Dallas tied for the lead among Seattle’s running backs Sunday with 18 snaps apiece. Penny played eight snaps, while Travis Homer played five.

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NFL gives nod to Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’ re-release with ‘(Jonathan Taylor’s version)’



It’s a good time to be named Taylor.

Just ask Taylor Swift, whose new re-recorded LP, “Red (Taylor’s Version),” is sitting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The singer-songwriter released the re-recorded album earlier in November after she was unable to get ownership of the masters of her first six studio albums.

A few NFL teams are tipping their cap to how big of a deal it is that Swift is challenging the music industry’s norms.

On Nov. 14, just two days after the album was released, the New England Patriots and Gillette Stadium made sure to shout out the “red” seen around during game day on Twitter.

The Buffalo Bills also gave Swift a little shoutout after a big AFC win right after “Red (Taylor’s Version)” came out.

And more recently, the NFL fully embraced Swift following Jonathan Taylor‘s big game this past weekend.

The Indianapolis Colts running back had five touchdowns against the Bills in Sunday’s game, giving them their third win in a row. Now, the NFL’s official Twitter account’s bio reads: “He knows the end zone All Too Well (Jonathan Taylor’s Version)” with a picture of one of those touchdown runs. What’s more, Taylor is wearing a Photoshopped red scarf in the picture, a nod to infamous lyrics in Swift’s song “All Too Well.”

Taylor became just the fourth player in NFL history to have 200 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns in a single game on the road. After contact, he rushed for 96 yards, the second-highest total of any player this season. He earned fantasy football players a whopping 53.4 points on Sunday.

This isn’t the first time Taylor Swift — who is known for the numbers 13 (her lucky number) and 22 (the title of a song on “Red”) — has had an NFL crossover.

According to Pro Football Reference, there have been four NFL players in league history named “Swift.” While none of them have worn Nos. 13 or 22, there have been two players with the last name Taylor to wear No. 13: Jacksonville Jaguars WR Kerry Taylor in 2013 and Tennessee Titans WR Taywan Taylor in 2017-18. Washington Football Team DB Rosey Taylor (1972), Chicago Bears RB Cliff Taylor (1974), New Orleans Saints DB Derrick Taylor (1987) and Miami Dolphins DB Jamar Taylor (2013-15) are four Taylors to wear No. 22.

Swift was also interviewed by ABC during the 2019 NFL draft.

Sounds like Taylor Swift and the NFL are a potential “Love Story” in the making.

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