When Aaron Rodgers was asked about his Covid-19 vaccination status back in August, the Green Bay Packers quarterback stated that he had been “immunized” against the virus.
The NFL considered this to mean unvaccinated and treated Rodgers as one of the players who had not received any of the available vaccines.
The reality of the difference between the two terms hit home this week as Green Bay Packers fans received the news that they had been fearing.
Rodgers has tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss this weekend’s massive Sunday evening game against the Kansas City Chiefs, and could well be out until the day before the Packers following game against the Seahawks on November 14.
“Immunized” Vs Vaccination
While Rodgers has not confirmed anything about his personal Covid-19 decisions, it is thought that rather than get the vaccination, Rodgers opted instead to undergo a different (and unproven) homeopathic-based form of treatment which he claimed immunized him against the virus.
He did agree to blood tests to confirm the level of antibodies in his blood, but the NFL took the view that this was insufficient evidence to group Rodgers as one of the ‘vaccinated’ players.
It is abundantly clear in the current NFL restrictions that vaccination is the way forward for players in the NFL, yet there has been a number of high-profile players deciding against having the vaccine, regardless of whether it impacts their situation in the team or not.
Cam Newton, Kirk Cousins, Cole Beasley and now Aaron Rodgers are just some of the players that have publicly refused to get a vaccine.
This is in clear contradiction to the vast reams of medical evidence that shows it is the most effective way of avoiding contracting the disease, getting severe Covid complications if you do still get it and, perhaps the most salient points, remaining alive and well.
Rodgers’ decision is all the more baffling as he has exposed himself to another potential risk that has seriously hampered millions around the world.
Furthermore, the Packers are now going to be subject to an NFL investigation into how the organization applied Covid-19 restrictions at their facility, with Rodgers seen unmasked around the facility all season, which is in contradiction of the NFL Covid-19 regulations.
The Danger Of Long Covid
Packers fans will be hoping that Rodgers treatment means that he only suffers from a mild version of the illness and does not contract ‘Long Covid’ a long-term ailment which has affected a number of sporting professionals across the globe and seriously impacted their performances.
The reasons why certain people suffer from issues with long Covid and others don’t is not yet understood.
However, it manifests itself for many months after a previously healthy athlete has fallen ill, making it almost impossible for some to return to their pre-illness levels of fitness.
In some cases, as in the case of Clemson Defensive End Julian Foster, it has led to them retiring from the game.
NBA Star Jayson Tatum now uses an inhaler before games to open the airways in his lungs after he was affected by Long Covid issues after being infected in January. Tatum is just 23.
Closer to home, NFL running back Ryquell Armstead, 24, then of the Jacksonville Jaguars was hospitalised twice last year and missed the entire season. He has since been signed and waived by the Giants and Saints, before joining the Green Bay Packers practice squad yesterday.
The irony of that fact should not be lost on Rodgers.
Love To Stand In For Absent Star
One positive for Packers fans is that they will get the chance to see the player who will likely be their starting quarterback next season, Jordan Love, in action in the NFL against one of its most successful teams of the last three years.
Love saw the first NFL action of his career in the Week 1 blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints and he impressed with 5 completions from 7 attempts for 68 yards.
He also got on the field in Game 2 against the Lions, taking the knee to see out the game.
However, he will play a significant role for the Packers in next weekend’s key game against the Chiefs, who moved to 4-4 on the season with a vital but unimpressive victory over the New York Giants last Monday.
Whether Love replaces Rodgers for just the one game, or longer, is now in the hands of fate. The chances are good Rodgers will make a full recovery and of course, everybody wishes him well as he battles the illness.
However, that doesn’t make his decision not to get the vaccination correct. If anything, his Packers teammates may well feel it was entirely the wrong choice.