Aaron Rodgers Questions Whether NFL COVID Protocols Are Based on Science

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has questioned the NFL's decision to tighten its coronavirus protocols, suggesting the guidelines the league had set out were fertile ground for double standards.

Since the beginning of the season, the Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans have all been forced to temporarily close their facilities because of players testing positive to COVID-19.

The Titans outbreak involved at least 24 players and led to the NFL tightening its protocols, deciding that any player, coach or member of staff with "high-risk" close contacts exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual must isolate for five days.

Rodgers, however, wasn't entirely convinced the strict guidelines imposed by the league were all justified or necessary.

"Proponents of all that say it's necessary to get us to the finish line," the Packers quarterback said during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday night.

"I think there's a lot of questions about, 'Are we doing all this based on science? [...] There's some interesting conversations to be had down the line about all that."

The NFL kicked off its season as planned in September and opted against playing it out in a bubble-like environment as the NBA and the MLB did—the former played the remaining regular season games and the playoffs in Orlando, Florida, while the latter played the postseason series in selected hubs to minimize travels.

Players, coaches and personnel have been routinely tested, but teams have been able to use their own practice facilities and their own stadiums—although most venues have operated at a reduced capacity and some teams have banned fans from attending for the entire season.

However, it hasn't been an entirely smooth ride for the NFL. The league was forced into multiple changes to its schedule following the Titans' outbreak, which lasted from late September until early October.

Last month, Tennessee was fined $350,000 following an investigation into what led to the cluster of cases within the organization, while the Las Vegas Raiders were fined $500,000 and stripped of a sixth-round pick for repeated violations of coronavirus protocols.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden, meanwhile, was fined $150,000.

Rodgers acknowledged the protocols were required to ensure the season continued without any major disruption, but suggested the guidelines set out by the NFL lacked consistency.

"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"@AaronRodgers12 on the COVID protocols #PatMcAfeeShowLIVE pic.twitter.com/7RqyrUgSWQ

— Pat McAFLEET (@PatMcAfeeShow) November 10, 2020

"What is this [the protocols] based on? 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 then further elaborated on his stance, suggesting some of the protocols put in place were even harder to understand given football's close-contact nature and that certain guidelines were simply imposed to preserve optics.

"I understand what we're trying to do, we're trying to get every game in and stay healthy," he continued.

"I just think that some things make sense and then some things don't make a lot of sense. They said before the season that we can't talk to anybody after a game.

"There's spit and sweat and all this stuff and we hit and we're tackling—and we can't go and talk to somebody who we know on another team? [...] Some of it is definitely for the optics of it. Some of it is probably based on science."

On Tuesday, the NFL released the results of its latest testing period, revealing there were 56 reported positive cases between players, coaches and staff between November 1 and November 7.

The figure is more than twice the total of any other period since the start of the season.

According to figures from the NFL and the NFL Players Association, approximately 8,000 players, coaches and staff have been tested during each period.

The U.S. have reported an increase of at least 100,000 cases in each of the past six days and the nationwide tally of positive cases stands at 10.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter of the game at Levi's Stadium on November 5 in Santa Clara, California. Rodgers has questioned whether NFL COVID protocols are based on science. Ezra Shaw/Getty