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Aaron Rodgers, Antonio Brown protocol violations differ significantly

One is accused of duping reporters. The other is accused of misleading his franchise.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12), left, and Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown (81), right, both were found to have violated COVID-19 protocols set forth by the NFL and NFL Players Association. But while Rodgers was only fined, Brown was suspended three games without pay.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12), left, and Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown (81), right, both were found to have violated COVID-19 protocols set forth by the NFL and NFL Players Association. But while Rodgers was only fined, Brown was suspended three games without pay. [ AP Photo/Aaron Gash; DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Dec. 3, 2021
Updated Dec. 4, 2021

TAMPA — Since news broke of the suspension of two Bucs players (and a former one) for using fake COVID-19 vaccination cards, cyberspace has become infested with double-standard allegations.

The outcries read like an algebra equation: Why doesn’t AR equal AB?

Or in simpler terms, why is Bucs receiver Antonio Brown serving a three-game suspension while Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers keeps flinging spirals in the NFC Central? Weren’t both found to have violated COVID-19 protocols agreed upon by the NFL and NFL Players Association?

Yes, but the circumstances differ. Considerably.

One (Rodgers) misled the public. The other (Brown) misled his employer, in a manner that could be subject to felony charges.

Rodgers, who tested positive in early November, said over the summer he was “immunized” when reporters asked about his vaccination status, but he since has acknowledged being unvaccinated. The three-time league MVP has said that his teammates and the Packers organization have known he was unvaccinated.

In lieu of the vaccines — Rodgers has said he’s allergic — he has said that he received monoclonal antibody treatment and took ivermectin to combat the virus and that he informed the NFL of his approach.

Aside from arriving mask-less at news conferences (a protocol violation for unvaccinated players), Rodgers said on The Pat McAfee Show that he has “followed every single protocol to a T, minus (the one regarding masks news conferences), which makes absolutely no sense to me.” Check out his interview, starting around the one-hour, eight-minute mark.

The Packers were fined $300,000 for violating rules agreed upon by the NFL and NFLPA. Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard were fined $14,560 for attending a gathering of more than three people (in this case, a Halloween party), which violates protocols for unvaccinated players.

Brown, safety Mike Edwards and former Bucs receiver John Franklin III were suspended three games each without pay, the NFL said Thursday, after a league investigation concluded that the three “misrepresented their COVID-19 vaccination status.”

The suspensions are the first for the NFL under its COVID-19 policy.

Using and/or selling fake vaccination cards is a felony subject to fines and up to five years in prison.

Brown tested positive early in the season, missing the Week 3 game against the Rams in Los Angeles.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls

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