Reports: Aaron Rodgers tests positive for COVID-19, will miss Week 9 vs. Chiefs

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According to reports on Wednesday from ESPN and NFL Network, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not start on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Packers announced later Wednesday that they had placed Rodgers on the reserve/COVID-19 list

Starting in Rodgers' place will likely be 2020 first-round draft pick Jordan Love, as practice squad QB Kurt Benkert was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday after testing positive. It will be Love's first NFL start. With Rodgers and Benkert both out of commission, Love is the only quarterback the Packers have anywhere, including their practice squad. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Packers are flying in quarterback Blake Bortles, who was on the Packers' practice squad over the summer, to sign with the practice squad.

Players who are vaccinated and test positive need to submit two negative tests 24 hours apart and be asymptomatic in order to return to normal football activities. Players who are not vaccinated are required to miss at least 10 days and must submit negative tests before returning. 

That's relevant here because Rodgers is reportedly unvaccinated, which is why he is guaranteed to miss Sunday's game even with four days to spare.

Rodgers said he'd been 'immunized,' not vaccinated

Rodgers said before the season began that he was "immunized," which at the time was interpreted as "vaccinated." He also said he wouldn't judge other guys on the team who aren't vaccinated. 

While immunization and vaccination are often used interchangeably, they're not exactly the same. Immunization means you've been made immune or resistant to an infectious disease. While vaccination is the most common way to be immunized, it can also refer to developing antibodies naturally after having a disease. To the NFL, natural immunity alone does not equal vaccination. 

Rodgers reportedly underwent 'alternative procedure'

According to ESPN's Rob Demovsky, Rodgers underwent an "alternative procedure" during the offseason and asked the NFL to consider that the same as him being actually vaccinated. The NFL reportedly denied his request. 

Rodgers petitioned the NFL to have an alternate treatment that he underwent before he returned to the Packers that would allow him to be considered the same as someone who received one of the approved vaccinations, sources told ESPN. After a lengthy back and forth, the league ruled that Rodgers would not get the same consideration and would be considered unvaccinated.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the alternate treatment Rodgers received was a "homeopathic treatment" administered by his "personal doctor" to raise his antibody levels. If his antibody levels were high enough, Rodgers may have needed just a single COVID-19 vaccine shot to be considered fully vaccinated instead of the typical two. The NFL's COVID protocols allow a player to receive just one shot and then undergo an antibody test at an approved facility. If his COVID antibodies are high enough after the first shot, the NFL will consider the player fully vaccinated. According to Rapoport, Rodgers hasn't received any COVID-19 vaccine shots. 

Rodgers has not been seen wearing a mask at media conferences and on the sidelines during games, which are places where cameras are able to take pictures or shoot video of him. If he is unvaccinated, both would be violations of the NFL/NFLPA COVID-19 protocols. However, according to Rapoport, Rodgers has been following rules for unvaccinated players when he's been in the Packers' facility.

Demovsky elaborated on Rodgers' reported mask-wearing strategy, pointing out that the Packers typically make unvaccinated players available over Zoom and not in person, while Rodgers has been doing unmasked in-person sessions with the media.

Sources said Rodgers follows masking protocols while interacting with players and coaches inside the team's headquarters at Lambeau Field. However, Rodgers does not wear a mask while in the media auditorium during his weekly and postgame press conferences. The Packers have put other unvaccinated players on Zoom instead of in-person media sessions.

If unvaccinated, it's not clear why the NFL allowed Rodgers to openly break protocol without being publicly fined for his actions. 

Rodgers was scheduled to speak on Wednesday as part of his normal media availability. However, the Packers are no longer making him available. 

If Rodgers is unvaccinated, the earliest he'll be able to return to NFL action is Nov. 13. 

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