Who knew there would be a sports figure that could make anti-vaxxer Nick Rolovich look almost good?
At least the former Washington State football coach didn’t lie about his intention to resist the vaccIne mandate required of nearly all state employees. He was up front in July, never wavered despite the self-inflicted damage done to him, his assistants and the school’s short-term reputation, and was fired. Inevitably, he sued the school. But there was at least a sliver of good fortune for eastern Washington attorneys who specialize in frivolous litigation.
Rolovich should send a gift to Aaron Rodgers. I don’t know what is appropriate, exactly, between anti-vaxxers. Maybe autograph a painting of a flat Earth, signing it, “The moon is all cheese too — just like Wisconsin!”
As you may have heard, the Packers quarterback, winner of the NFL’s most valuable player award a year ago who was making a worthy run for two in a row this season, tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday, and is certain to sit out Sunday’s anticipated game with the Kansas City Chiefs.
According to NFL protocols, vaccinated players who test positive are allowed to return after they have two negative tests that are taken at least 24 hours apart.
But unvaccinated players who test positive are isolated for at least 10 days. That is the case with Rodgers, which means his earliest return would be Nov. 13, the day before Seahawks play the Packers in Green Bay.
And if the illness lingers, well . . .
Let me offer right here a stern scold to any snickering member of the 12s: There’s no pulling for covid. Are we clear on that? Good.
But if you want to giggle over the hypocrisy regarding Rodgers’ severe criticism of club management in the off-season for not doing enough of the right things for the greater franchise good, well, have at it.
In a press conference Aug. 26, Rodgers said he “has been immunized,” which led to the belief he was vaccinated. But that was not the case. According to reporting by NFL Media, Rodgers had homeopathic treatments provided by his personal physician to raise his antibody levels. But after consulting with the players union, that did not meet the standard agreed upon by the union and league.
So the Packers, the league and the union knew he was not vaccinated, and thus was subjected to more rigorous protocols than vaccinated players, including daily testing, mask-wearing and high-risk, close contact standards that would force him to isolate for five days based on interaction with a positive individual, even if he tested negative. All of this made no news until he tested positive.
In their win Sunday over undefeated Arizona, the Packers played without their top two receivers, Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, who were in the covid protocol, as was the team’s defensive coordinator. Joining Rodgers Wednesday on the injured/covid list was WR Isaac Yiadom.
We’ll never know how the infection was introduced to the Packers. We do know it seems to be spreading.
Asked Wednesday at his weekly presser if Rodgers’ “immunized” remark was misleading, Packers coach Matt LaFleur said, “It’s a great question for Aaron. I’m not going to comment on it.”
That remark seemed to have ice on it that’s early even for the shores of Lake Michigan in early November.
Packers management must be righteously frosty. Throughout spring and summer, Rodgers enumerated his disenchantment with player personnel decisions, particularly the drafting of QB Jordan Love as his eventual replacement, after which Rodgers, 37, posted his MVP season.
Sensing some public and media disenchantment with putting the club and fans through the wringer, Rodgers chose the moment of Kenny Mayne’s final ESPN show in May to lay on some syrupy suck-up to sports fans, particularly in Green Bay:
“It is about the people, and that’s the most important thing. Green Bay has always been about the people — from Curly Lambeau being owner and founder to the ’60s with (Vince) Lombardi and Bart Starr and all those incredible names, to the ’90s teams with coach (Mike) Holmgren and Favrey (Brett Favre) and the Minister of Defense (Reggie White) to the run that we’ve been on. It’s about the people.“
What about “the people” now? Especially his current teammates, many of whom will never again be on a 7-1 team, one that is likely to win the division, and perhaps get a No. 1 seed for the playoffs.
Yes, Love may be ready for the job and capable of beating the wobbly 4-4 Chiefs, but what about credibility as a leader? Many skeptical teammates took the jab for one another, but Rodgers could not? His “immunized” dodge may not be an outright lie, but there’s no doubt he risked the well-being of others as well as himself. Deliberately.
At least Rolovich was masked up at most every public setting. Rodgers was bare-faced in his media gigs. Now the league is jumping into an investigation of the Packers covid operation.
“The primary responsibility for enforcement of the Covid protocols within club facilities rests with each club,” the NFL said in a statement Wednesday. “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 the matter with the Packers.”
Question No. 1: Was the club, now awash in covid, negligent in enforcing the rules because he was Aaron Rodgers?
His words said Green Bay was about “the people.” His actions make it about one guy.
Drama in the Seahawks-Packers game likely will be no match for the post-game pressers, even if neither Rodgers nor Russell Wilson show up.