The Green Bay Packers lost a game yesterday to the Kansas City Chiefs that they would probably have won if Aaron Rodgers had been the Packers’ QB for the game. The Packers’ defense held the Chiefs to 13 points, but Jordan Love – making his first NFL start for the Packers – was only able to score 7 points. As you must know by now, Rodgers missed the game because he tested positive for COVID-19.
If that was all there is to the story, one could toss it off as a stroke of bad luck for Rodgers and the Packers and look ahead to see if there are any sorts of playoff projections that can me made based on this defeat. Would that everything here was so simple…
Ever since training camp, Aaron Rodgers has said he was “immunized” against COVID; he never said he was vaccinated, nor did he say directly that he had turned down the vaccination. People tolerated that because he is a star player, and he has a persona of being a cool guy who is often flip with the media. Heck, that is the persona that has gotten him as far as it has with the State Farm ads.
The problem is that he is not vaccinated AND that he has been violating the NFL protocols for unvaccinated players since the start of the season. One glaring example is his appearance at his weekly press conferences. As an unvaccinated player, he is required to do those session masked; Rodgers has done them all unmasked. Given that easily observed violation of the protocols, it is logical to assume – – but we do not know for certain – – that he also violated the protocols when it comes to his mask-wearing behaviors inside the Packers’ facilities with his teammates and coaches.
Now comes the time to dig deep into the history of the US over the last 50 years or so and ask three variants of the question made famous by Senator Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) during the Senate hearings related to Watergate:
- What did the Packers know about the lack of vaccination and when did they know it?
- What did the NFL know about the lack of vaccination and when did they know it?
- What did the NFLPA know about the lack of vaccination and when did they know it?
These answers are relevant because it certainly seems to me that this was not a deep dark secret known only Aaron Rodgers and the medical professional who treated him with homeopathic “stuff” to provide “immunization”. It is clear to me that Rodgers has been deceitful in his lies about his status and his improper behaviors as a result of his deceitful status representation.
- But what did the team know and by letting it go on how badly did they endanger other players coaches and team staff?
- And what about the league?
- And what about the NFLPA which negotiated an agreement with the league nominally to protect its members from being exploited by rapacious owners who might provide ill-suited working conditions? How about one of your own members being the “endangering agent”?
The COVID vaccines have presented a trigger point for many Americans. Let me put my cards on the table:
- I am vaccinated – – and boostered. My extended family – save for my 8-year-old granddaughter – is also vaccinated and boostered. My granddaughter has gotten a first shot and is awaiting the time for her second shot.
- In any discussion with anyone, my recommendation is to take the vaccine. Medical history says vaccines work – – see polio, smallpox et. al.
- Socially, I believe private entities can require employees and customers to be vaccinated. I do not support nearly to the same degree having governments mandate vaccinations.
- I believe that unvaccinated individuals can and should be held accountable for their choice to turn down the vaccine. That accountability might manifest itself in loss of a job or reduced health benefits or denied access to certain events.
- I am fed up to my eyebrows with anecdotal horror stories about this entire issue; it is time to put lots of the rhetoric on ice.
But in the case of Aaron Rodgers, I am afraid that his “star player status” could get in the way of him suffering some consequences of his behavior. And by “his behavior” I do not mean his decision not to take the vaccine – – that is HIS business and HIS decision. What I mean by “his behavior” is his mendacity and his deceit. Here is my position on the matter and I suspect that it will not resonate well with many NFL fans:
- Tom Brady was suspended for 4 games a few years ago. The nominal behavior that got him suspended was deflating footballs; that charge was not well supported by evidence and science said there were environmental factors that could have caused whatever measurements were made to have been what they were. Brady was also non-cooperative with the investigation and supposedly was not candid with the folks doing the investigating.
- Aaron Rodgers’ behavior is potentially far more consequential than was Tom Brady’s. He has been lying about this status and availing himself of the relaxed restrictions enjoyed by vaccinated players for at least two months – – and probably four months.
- I think Aaron Rodgers deserves a longer suspension than Tom Brady got. For me it is a minimum of 6 games.
Finally let me close today with an observation from a highly unusual source for these rants, Pope Benedict XVI:
“In the name of freedom, there has to be a correlation between rights and duties, by which every person is called to assume responsibility for his or her choices, made as a consequence of entering into relations with others.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………