The league had a major potential problem on its hands, under the prior COVID-19 protocol that required daily testing of unvaccinated players. The league has solved that problem, in one simple memo.
With unvaccinated Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers due to see his 90-day testing holiday expire two days after the NFC Championship, he would have been subject to daily testing from Tuesday, February 1 through Sunday, February 13. With current COVID protocols resulting in a minimum absence of five days for unvaccinated players who test positive, a positive result for Rodgers at any point from Wednesday, February 9 through Sunday, February 13 would have resulted in Rodgers missing the Super Bowl, no exceptions and no questions asked.
Rather than making what would have been an obvious change to the rules after the Packers qualify for the Super Bowl (if they do) or deliberately ignoring a positive test for Rodgers (which the league would have ben tempted to do), the NFL cleaned up any potential mess in advance, by eliminating the requirement for daily testing of unvaccinated players.
Per a league source, this encompasses roughly a dozen players who are unvaccinated and not within the 90-day testing holiday. But it also applies directly to Rodgers, who remains in the final days of his testing holiday and who could have been lost for the Super Bowl if tested daily.
He still could be, if he develops COVID symptoms in the days preceding the Super Bowl. The chances of him confessing to symptoms or the Green Bay doctors blowing the whistle on any such symptoms are less than slim to none. Once the postseason began, most players quit disclosing symptoms, and/or most teams stopped looking.
At this point, the NFL won’t be allowing COVID to derail the playoffs or to undermine the Super Bowl. A protocol that potential would have replaced Aaron Rodgers with Jordan Love definitely would have undermined the Super Bowl.
The change in protocol also addresses the concerns that could have prompted Rodgers to potentially threaten to boycott the Super Bowl, a possibility that he tried a little too hard to characterize as implausible. He won’t be tested on a daily basis when his 90-day holiday ends; that’s what he would have wanted, if he’d threatened to not lay.
By next season, chances are that no players will be tested at all, and that the pandemic will be regarded as endemic to the population. Already, the vast majority of Americans are behaving that way, regardless of whether they should.