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Aaron Rodgers casts doubt on NFL's COVID-19 protocols: 'Are we doing all this based on science?'

Jason Owens
·5-min read

Aaron Rodgers cast doubt on the wisdom of quarantines at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, likening curve-flattening self-isolation efforts to “house arrest.”

On Tuesday, he expressed similar skepticism around the NFL’s COVID-19 safety protocols. In an interview with “The Pat McAfee Show,” Rodgers lamented “big brother spying on you all the time” in reference to the NFL’s increasingly strict COVID protocol oversight.

He started by listing his grievances with league-imposed social distancing efforts at team facilities.

Rodgers: ‘Are we doing all this based on science?’

“There’s one-person tables in the lunchroom,” Rodgers said. “There’s plexiglass, or whatever the hell it is between our lockers. ... It definitely puts a strain on that locker room conversation and camaraderie.”

Rodgers then questioned whether league-imposed protocols are serving a purpose.

“Obviously the proponents of all that say it’s necessary to get us to the finish line and to the season,” Rodgers continued. “I think there’s a lot of questions about — are we doing all this based on science? And it’s all necessary?”

When McAfee asked Rodgers if he was advocating for looser NFL COVID-19 protocols, Rodgers suggested that some of the league’s efforts are based on optics rather than science.

Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers walks out against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on November 05, 2020 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
This isn't the first time Aaron Rodgers has expressed skepticism about COVID-19 safety protocols. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

“I’m just wondering what is this based on?” Rodgers continued. “I just think there’s some double standards. You can dap up a guy after the game, but you can’t eat at the same lunch table as a teammate.

“You can go down to practice and hit each other and be in close contact, but you have to have plexiglass in between you and the guy next to you in the locker room.”

Rodgers’ critique arrives as COVID crisis worsens

With experts continuing to learn how the novel coronavirus is spread, there aren’t clear answers to all of Rodgers’ concerns. The science is constantly evolving. What is clear is that COVID-19 is spreading at a faster rate than ever in the United States, with the country hitting records daily this week with new recorded cases eclipsing 100,000 per day.

Medical experts are concerned about colder weather influencing an increase of the spread during fall and winter months and are in agreement that being indoors increases the risk of transmitting the virus.

That explains the NFL’s thinking behind placing strict protocols in locker rooms and at team facilities as the league has been plagued with outbreaks since Week 3 of the season.

Rodgers’ criticism also arrives as the Wisconsin Department of Health urges citizens to make efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus amid surging cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the state.

NFL explains its stance

As Rodgers questioned the NFL’s safety measures, the league’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills likened enforcing protocols to educating people about wearing seatbelts.

“It’s a little bit like when seat belts came along,” Sills said during a league conference call Tuesday. “Overnight, you had to do a lot of education about why wearing seat belts was important.”

Rodgers questioned broader COVID safety measures

Tuesday wasn’t the first time Rodgers has expressed skepticism about COVID-19 safety measures.

While advocating for the return of sports in May in an interview with Wisconsin’s WISN, Rodgers spoke about the loss of “freedoms” and the economic casualties that come with COVID-19 shutdowns.

“I think there are a lot of questions now that it’s more of a house arrest to find a cure with people wondering what exactly that means as far as the future of the country and the freedoms we are allowed to have at this point. ...

“I think the important thing to think about, though which is more important than [sports] is the state of the country and the fact that we have 36-plus million people on unemployment right now. You have rising poverty levels to go along with the unemployment.”

While Rodgers addressed the difficult economic realities of COVID-19, he neglected in that interview to acknowledge the death toll and health risks associated with shunning pandemic protocols. It was rhetoric that echoed that of officials and politicians advocating for the swift reopening of the country as it remained in the grips of the pandemic.

As of Tuesday, the United States claimed 10.2 million on the world’s 51.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases (19.8 percent) and 239,000 of the 1.27 million global deaths (18.8 percent) attributed to the coronavirus. The United States is home to four percent of the world’s population.

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