Given that the league has suspended Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown and two others for three games due to misrepresenting their vaccination status, some are wondering why Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn’t suspended for doing the same thing.
The answer is simple, even if it’s not universally accepted as satisfactory.
Brown misrepresented his status to the Buccaneers and, in turn, the NFL. In contrast, the Packers and the NFL at all times knew that Rodgers was not vaccinated.
That said, Rodgers lied about his status to everybody else, both with his words and his actions — repeatedly showing up for indoors press conferences without wearing a mask, despite the protocols applicable to unvaccinated players. And the fact that he broke the rules that the NFL and NFL Players Association regarded as necessary to protect, for example, the reporters in the press room while questioning unvaccinated players means that, in the estimation of the league and the union, Rodgers put those reporters at risk.
But Rodgers faced only a fine for one violation (arising from attending a Halloween party), in large part because the team and the league allowed him to continue to show up for those press conferences without a mask, even though the team and the league knew he wasn’t vaccinated.
Both offenses are problematic. Brown’s is much worse, given that he was in much closer proximity to coaches and staff without a mask or other precautions because the team and the league believed he was vaccinated. And Brown faced a greater consequence because of it.
Should Rodgers have faced greater consequences, too? A reasonable argument can be made that he got away with far less than a slap on the wrist. However, unlike Brown, he never lied to the team or the league about his true status.