Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the NFL's reigning MVP, tested positive for the coronavirus and will miss Sunday's game at the Kansas City Chiefs while in isolation for at least 10 days, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.
Rodgers was told in August that he was considered unvaccinated under protocols developed by the league and the NFL Players Association, one of those people said Wednesday, after Rodgers raised an issue regarding his vaccination classification. That person said there was dialogue between the NFL and the players' union about the issue before a final determination was made.
Another person with knowledge of the case suggested Rodgers may have been interested in a homeopathic medicine alternative to vaccination. In August, Rodgers responded to a question about his vaccination status by saying he was "immunized." He was not available to comment Wednesday.
The 37-year-old has been undergoing daily coronavirus testing, one of the people familiar with the situation said, as required under the protocols this season only for unvaccinated players. It was not immediately clear whether Rodgers had adhered to all of the other requirements for unvaccinated players, which include strict mask-wearing provisions. The NFL said it will review whether the protocols were followed properly.
"The primary responsibility for enforcement of the Covid protocols within club facilities rests with each club," the league said in a statement issued through a spokesman. "Failure to properly enforce the protocols has resulted in discipline being assessed against individual clubs in the past. The league is aware of the current situation in Green Bay and will be reviewing the matter with the Packers."
Under the league's coronavirus protocols, an unvaccinated player must remain in isolation for at least 10 days following a positive test result. The player, if asymptomatic, can return to the team setting after that 10-day isolation. A vaccinated player can return to the team setting sooner, without a mandatory 10-day isolation, by remaining symptom-free and having two negative test results 24 hours apart.
One of the people familiar with the case said Rodgers can rejoin the Packers after his 10-day isolation if he remains symptom-free, also confirming Rodgers's unvaccinated status.
Packers Coach Matt LaFleur, speaking at a news conference, declined to discuss details of Rodgers's positive test or vaccination status. LaFleur said Rodgers "won't be available this week" and that backup Jordan Love will start Sunday.
When Rodgers told reporters in August that he was immunized, he added that he would not "judge" unvaccinated players. Asked Wednesday whether that had been a misleading statement, LaFleur said: "That's a great question for Aaron. I'm not going to comment on it."
LaFleur said he informed the other Packers players during a team meeting Wednesday morning of Rodgers's positive test result.
"I said: 'Hey, it's a great challenge. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. And we all have to prepare to the best of our ability to go down there and get a win,' " LaFleur said. "And that's the mind-set. They're not going to postpone or cancel the game."
Packers third-string quarterback Kurt Benkert reportedly tested positive earlier this week. Benkert was placed on the Packers' covid-19 reserve list and appeared to confirm his positive test on social media.
That leaves Love as the only quarterback on Green Bay's roster. LaFleur said the Packers would add a quarterback.
Green Bay wide receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard were on the covid-19 reserve list and missed the Packers' victory at Arizona last Thursday. Adams reportedly tested positive. Lazard reportedly was placed in quarantine after being identified as a high-risk close contact. Under this season's protocols, only unvaccinated players are subject to such five-day contact-tracing quarantines.
Joe Barry, the Packers' defensive coordinator, also missed the game in Arizona under the protocols. He reportedly tested positive. All coaches and team staffers leaguewide must be vaccinated to retain their ability to work closely with players, per the protocols.
LaFleur said he was "absolutely" confident that all protocols have been followed properly within the Packers' team facility all season.
"I watch what these guys do," he said. "I can only speak to our football space. … We've got cameras everywhere, I know. I think our guys do an outstanding job with it. It's unfortunate. It's not like this thing can't happen to anybody. It's happened to a lot of people outside of this building."
There is not a vaccine mandate for NFL players. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, said last week that 94.1 percent of players were vaccinated and that the league and NFLPA still hope to achieve a 100 percent vaccination rate. Sills said the NFL's protocols are working well but the league, in his view, has to remain vigilant and not give any immediate consideration to relaxing restrictions. The NFL has not postponed any games this season because of coronavirus-related issues.
"It's the time of the season, right?" LaFleur said. "I know a lot of people even around Green Bay that are going through this right now, both vaxxed and unvaxxed. And so it just is what it is."