The announcement that NFL star receiver Antonio Brown would be suspended multiple games for violating the professional football league’s COVID-19 policies drew attention to the decided disparity in punishment for all-pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers‘ similar transgression.
Both Brown and Rodgers misrepresented their vaccination statuses, but Brown received the much harsher punishment of a three-game suspension, which includes forfeiting pay for those contests. Rodgers, on the other hand, was simply fined $14,650 and did not receive a suspension for his intentional duplicity about his vaccine status.
While it’s unclear how much money Brown will lose out on with his suspension for those three games, SB Nation calculated that Rodgers — who stands to earn more than $22 million playing for the Green Bay Packers this season alone — effectively received a financial slap on the wrist.
“To put this in context, to someone making $45,000 a year [Rodgers] was fined $27,” the sports website wrote.
Conversely, Brown signed a one-year, $3,100,000 contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which means he earns roughly $182,000 for each of the 17 regular-season NFL games. Multiply that number by the three games Brown will have to sit out and we’re looking at nearly a half-million dollars he won’t be able to collect.
Is that fair? The devil is apparently in the details.
The NFL ruled that Brown got a fake COVID-19 vaccination card, but ESPN reported that his lawyer said the star player is fully vaccinated. It was unclear why Brown would need a fake vaccination card if he is fully vaccinated. Either way, if he is vaccinated, he didn’t put any of his teammates or coaching staff at risk like an unvaccinated player would.
Rodgers, however, is not vaccinated and went out of his way to mislead the media with vague statements that were forgivingly translated to suggest he was vaccinated. Not only has he refused to wear a mask during press conferences — another clear violation of NFL protocol — but he repeatedly also broke rules for unvaccinated players inside the Green Bay Packers facilities.
Supposedly the Packers and the NFL knew about Rodgers’ vaccination status all along, and that somehow contributed to a less severe punishment. But on the surface, both players .lied about their vaccination statuses, period. Why not dole out equitable punishments.
Considering everything that we know about the virus and social guidelines, it doesn’t take an infectious disease epidemiologist to determine that Rodgers’ offense was far worse than Brown’s when it comes to public health implications.
Brown is expected to return to action on Dec. 26. Rodgers, who didn’t miss any games at all, gets to enjoy his upcoming bye week before playing the Chicago Bears on Dec. 12.