Analysis: why Rodgers was fined and 3 Bucs were suspended

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By BARRY WILNER AP Pro Football Writer

Aaron Rodgers flaunts NFL / NFLPA coronavirus protocols and gets fined that barely shows up on his paycheck.

Antonio Brown and two others do the same and receive three games of suspension.

Which give?

It’s complicated, but in some ways it’s also pretty straightforward why the Packers quarterback was fined $ 14,650, an amount negotiated between the league and the players’ union during the development. COVID-19 protocols. And why Brown, teammate Mike Edwards and former Buccaneers player John Franklin III have been hit much harder for forging vaccination records.

Rodgers has been fined for not wearing a mask in some instances, at a Halloween party and at press conferences. A joint NFL and union investigation found he wore a mask in other locations and complied with protocols.

Rodgers has misled the public and the media, but he has briefed the club – who have informed the NFL – and their teammates of his status. Indeed, everyone in his ecosystem knew he wasn’t vaccinated, and he was testing COVID-19 and social distancing daily at the team’s premises. It was those exceptions where he failed to do so that led to the fine.

The Packers were nailed for $ 300,000 for their lack of oversight in the Rodgers affair. Whether this indicates organizational complicity is a matter of debate.

Tampa Bay was not fined, although it loses an important defensive back to Edwards during part of the stretch run, and does not have Brown, who has missed the last five games due to ‘an ankle injury. He also missed the Bucs’ Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams after testing positive for COVID-19.

Brown, Edwards and Franklin’s actions began over the summer and, according to someone familiar with the matter, “behaved like they were vaccinated when they weren’t.” The person spoke on condition of anonymity as specific player violations were not announced.

“The league wanted to make an example of those three,” the person said, “and wanted to suspend them for six to eight games and they settled for three.”

The deal was that players would take the three-game suspensions for repeated protocol violations, no appeals, and there would be no public statements about the fake vaccination cards.

Another person with direct knowledge of the case told The Associated Press that all three players are now vaccinated.

“These players put all of their staff at risk, themselves and their family members, teammates and team staff,” the person said, also speaking on condition of anonymity. “They weren’t wearing masks when they (needed them) and weren’t tested every day, acting like they were vaccinated.”

All 32 NFL teams were visited during training camp last summer and briefed on updated COVID-19 protocols. As early as July 22, the league made a presentation to clubs to be looking for fake vaccination cards and alerted teams to the potential for this to happen based on media reports of people buying drugs. fake cards. The NFL even placed the FBI logo in the slide show, pointing out that acquiring and using a fake vaccination card is a law enforcement problem that could result in jail time.

And the players’ association made sure that all of its members know that they actually forged a federal document if they had a false vaccination document.

However, the protocols do not provide for discipline for such violation. Thus, the negotiations between the league and the union which resulted in the tie-ups of three games.

There has been speculation that Brown’s history of misconduct, which includes an eight-game suspension in 2020 for violating NFL personal conduct policy, has resulted in stricter discipline. The league and the union insisted that was not the case.

The Brown / Edwards / Franklin case is the first disciplinary action with suspensions and was announced by a joint NFL and NFLPA statement, reflecting the seriousness the two take with the protocols.

Will there be other such scenarios? With around 95% of NFL players vaccinated – and providing valid, verified evidence – the numbers say it’s not likely. By imposing relatively large penalties for such violations, the league and union hope that a strong message has been sent.

Yet imagine if that message was not heard or acted upon, and one or more star players are given suspensions when playoff time rolls around in six weeks.

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