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Aaron Rodgers is among those in the NFL to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
On Thursday, the reigning league MVP and Green Bay Packers quarterback, 37, told reporters and news outlets that he's "been immunized" ahead of the upcoming season for which some players have refused to get the vaccine.
The NFL currently does not require players to be fully vaccinated against COVID, but specific mandates from teams and venues have been much-talked-about topics recently with ongoing changes to local city and state laws. In addition, more NFL athletes are being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list with some team protocols being more relaxed than a season ago.
"It's an interesting issue that I think we will see played out through the entire season," Rodgers said Thursday.
"There's guys on the team that haven't been vaccinated and it's a personal decision, not going to judge those guys," the one-time Jeopardy! guest host added. (Linebacker Ray Wilborn was briefly on the COVID reserve list but was back at training camp earlier this month.)
Earlier this month, Packers coach Matt LaFleur said that of the team's 89 players, at least 78 were vaccinated. "Right now, we've got 11 guys that aren't. So, all we're going to do is continue to tell them what the protocols are and try to educate guys as best we can and give them the information. And then they get to make the decision for themselves," LaFleur said, according to PackersNews.com.
Talks of vaccination rates in the NFL continue to rise as the 2021 season gets ready to kick off in September.
The NFL previously made a ruling that requires unvaccinated players who could be in close contact with anyone with a positive test must quarantine for five days. And this week, the Buffalo Bills sent multiple players home from the team facility due to COVID safety protocols after a team trainer tested positive.
On Thursday, Bills receiver Isaiah McKenzie, who is unvaccinated, shared on social media that he received a letter from the league about a $14,650 fine for violating the league's COVID protocols after failing to wear a mask inside the team facility. "They got me! @NFL you win!" McKenzie wrote about his second violation.
Also on Thursday, Tennessee Titans reached a 97 percent vaccination rate among players, said general manager Jon Robinson, according to the NFL, which reported that quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is vaccinated, was sidelined by COVID.
As for the defending champions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said on Wednesday that he is laying down his own COVID-related rules for his players, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, this season. According to NFL.com, Arians' restrictions include the players not being able to leave the team hotel and eliminating family visits during road trips.
Arians' rule came after Bucs kicker, and fully vaccinated player, Ryan Succop tested positive for COVID following a dinner he had with former Titans teammates.
"For us, life is not normal. We're pretty much under the same protocols as last year. Just because that's the way it is, especially living here. With Tennessee coming in and going out to dinner, they found out the hard way and so did Ryan," Arians said, according to NFL.com. "We can only tell them so much ... our guys are going to make a bunch of sacrifices that you have to make now. Families at the hotel, all of those things are all out the window. ... I don't give a crap if they're vaccinated or not. They're not going anywhere."
Many teams are hoping to have a high enough vaccination rate to not sideline a majority number of players if someone tests positive, including the Dallas Cowboys.
"I don't really say anything here. To me, this is a team game. We rely on each other to play. We rely on each other to win. We have to have each other. There are 11 guys out there at any one time to be trite about it," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday, according to the Dallas Morning News. "You have to count on the other guy being available. And you certainly don't want to be doing anything that causes your teammates to not be available. All of that comes to the same conclusion as far as what you agreed to be as far as a player, be a part of a team."
The Atlanta Falcons became the first NFL team to have their entire roster vaccinated against COVID.
Prior to the official start of this year's season, all 32 NFL teams were cleared for full fan capacity.
The New Orleans Saints were among the first teams to require all fans to show either proof of vaccination or negative test from within 72 hours of attending games at the Superdome this season. Fans are also required to wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking.
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