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Aaron Rodgers tests positive for COVID-19: Rules for unvaccinated NFL players, when Packers QB could return, more

News that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 , is unvaccinated and will miss this weekend’s game against the Chiefs shocked the NFL world on Wednesday — and not just because he said in August that he had already been "immunized." Since training camp opened in late July, Rodgers had not been publicly observed to be following any of the obvious protocols for unvaccinated NFL players, as agreed upon this summer by the NFL and NFL Players Association. The NFL is currently reviewing the situation with the Packers, per a league statement on Wednesday afternoon.

So what’s the deal here? Did Rodgers mislead everyone about his vaccination status? Was he flouting NFL rules? Were the Packers or the league looking the other way? What follows is our best attempt to separate fact, assumption and outright fiction in this evolving story. We lay out what we definitively know about the situation right now and run through the league’s protocols involved, potential fines that could be in play and when Rodgers could be back on the field for Green Bay. What happened?

Rodgers tested positive Wednesday morning for COVID-19, and the Packers confirmed that backup QB Jordan Love will start Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs. That sequence made clear that Rodgers is unvaccinated. Why is that?

Unvaccinated players who test positive must isolate at least 10 days, even if they are asymptomatic. Vaccinated players, however, can return following a positive test as soon as they produce two negative tests with 24 hours in between, as long as they are asymptomatic. In other words, Rodgers would at least have a chance to play Sunday if he were vaccinated. Didn’t Rodgers say he had been vaccinated?

No. In August, a reporter in Green Bay asked him if he had been vaccinated for COVID-19. He answered by saying, in part: "Yeah, I’ve been immunized." Is there a difference?

No one thought so at the time. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines vaccination as "the act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce protection from a specific disease." Its definition for immunization is "a process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination."

So if you want to parse words in retrospect, you could interpret Rodgers’ response to mean he believed himself to be protected against COVID-19 without overtly saying he received an approved vaccination. Why did he think he was protected against COVID-19?

According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Rodgers pursued an alternative treatment and then petitioned the NFL to recognize him as vaccinated. The NFL refused, citing the clear language of the NFL-NFLPA agreement reached this summer. What did that agreement say about vaccination?

It offered multiple paths toward a "fully vaccinated’ status. They include: 14 days past a two-shot regimen of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine

14 days past a one-shot regime of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

One shot of any vaccine if the player had also tested positive after August […]

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