The NFL has fined the Green Bay Packers and their quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard for violating COVID-19 protocols and warned that further transgressions could result in more severe penalties. 

ESPN first reported the discipline handed down Tuesday by the league, which will cost the team $300,000 and the players $14,650 each. 

The league opened an investigation last week after Rodgers tested positive for coronavirus, which forced him to sit out Sunday's 13-7 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs. 

He and Lazard are not vaccinated, and a league review found that they violated protocols by not wearing masks inside the Packers' facility and also by attending a Halloween party. 

"We respect the league's findings and we recognise the importance of adherence to the COVID protocols to keep our team and organisation safe and healthy," Packers president Mark Murphy said in a statement.

"We will continue to educate the team regarding the importance of the protocols and remain committed to operating within the protocols."

Multiple outlets said the league told the Packers they could face a loss of draft picks or drop back in the draft order if they commit further violations, and the players also could face more significant sanctions. 

 

Aaron Rodgers acknowledged Tuesday that people might have felt "misled" by him saying he was "immunised" against COVID-19, but he sought to turn the focus away from his decisions and back to the field. 

The Green Bay Packers quarterback missed Sunday's 13-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive for coronavirus last week, and the revelation that he had not been vaccinated as many believed he had implied during the preseason ignited a firestorm of criticism. 

Rodgers sought to move past that in an appearance Tuesday on the Pat McAfee Show, though he continued to stand by his decision. 

"I'm an athlete, I'm not an activist," Rodgers said. "So I'm going to get back to doing what I do best, and that's playing ball.

"I shared my opinion. It wasn't one that was come to frivolously. It involved a lot of study and what I felt like was in my best interest for my body."

Under the NFL's protocols, Rodgers will not be able to practice with the Packers this week but he could be cleared Saturday to play in Sunday's home game against the Seattle Seahawks. 

He said he hopes the reception from the crowd at Lambeau Field, the only home he has known in his 17-year NFL career, will be the same as it ever has been whenever he next takes the field there. 

That would be a welcome change from the blow-back he has received over the last few days, which Rodgers acknowledged Tuesday. 

"I'm human, stuff can definitely hurt your feelings," he said. "But, look, I shared an opinion that is polarising. I get it. And I misled some people about my status, which I take full responsibility of those comments.

"But, in the end, I have to stay true to who I am and what I'm about. And I stand behind the things that I said.

"I have a ton of empathy for people who have been going through the worst part of this pandemic, which has affected all of us in different ways, but so many people with, like I said, lives that were lost, lives that were forever changed, and I have a ton of compassion and empathy for those people. I have tried to help out as much as I can.

"The other stuff is so out of my control, and there's going to be people that don't like you, and hate you for things you said or might not understand what you said or know what you said and might've just seen a headline. And that's fine.

"I believe that people are entitled to their opinion, even if it's an opinion that's unfavourable to me."

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said he and his staff are preparing separate game plans that feature either Rodgers or backup Jordan Love starting at quarterback. 

Love struggled in his first NFL start, completing 19 of 34 passes for 190 yards with a touchdown and an interception for a 69.5 passer rating, but Rodgers had nothing but praise for the 23-year-old. 

"I'm proud of Jordan. I thought he hung in there," Rodgers said. "The only thing I told him during the week was just to trust his feet because he is a very athletic guy.

"I thought he did a nice job of avoiding sacks, getting out of the pocket, making positive plays out of potential sacks. I might have got sacked in certain situations; he was able to elusively get out of the pocket there and have positive gains."

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur shouldered the blame for Jordan Love's struggles in the 13-7 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Love made his first start for the Packers after reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers was left on the sidelines having tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday.

The Rodgers-less Packers (7-2) fell short on Sunday with Love under centre in Kansas City, where Green Bay's seven-game winning streak came to an end.

Love – the 26th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft – was 19-of-34 passing for 190 yards, a touchdown and interception, while the 23-year-old rushed for another 23 yards on five carries.

"This one falls on me, squarely," LaFleur said when discussing Love's woes against the blitz. "Certainly, for us to be two for 12 on third down, obviously didn't have a good enough plan for some of the zero pressures that they brought on us.

"But I thought our guys battled. I thought Jordan, I was really proud of the way he played. He hung in there, he was taking hits and delivering the ball.

"I thought he did a really good job. But I think that, ultimately, I've got to be better and this one falls squarely on me."

Regarding his own performance, Love added: "Obviously not good enough. I think we started off a little slow, I started off a little slow personally.

"I think we got into a bit of a rhythm later. Obviously, it was too late. Just not good enough."

"I think we started having a better answer in the end, but yeah, they were bringing the all out, they were eating us up and we just weren't able to execute on those plays that we had against it," Love said.

"I think all it took was maybe one big play against it, and it wouldn't have been coming as much. Obviously, we weren't able to execute it, so that's why they kept bringing it."

After a turbulent week in Green Bay, Jordan Love said Friday he is healthy and ready to make his first NFL start Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Love became the last quarterback standing for the Packers after starter Aaron Rodgers and third-stringer Kurt Benkert tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week. Green Bay have since signed veteran Blake Bortles as insurance. 

A first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Love made his NFL debut in the team's season-opening loss to the New Orleans Saints after watching from the sidelines all of last season. 

The Packers have won seven in a row since that defeat and it will be up to Love to maintain that momentum against Patrick Mahomes and the defending AFC champions at Arrowhead Stadium. 

"I've been preparing myself for that moment and now's the time," Love told reporters Friday. 

"Obviously there's going to be some nerves there. There always is, walking out of the tunnel. The atmosphere is going to be rocking. But I have a lot of confidence in myself, a lot of confidence in this team, and those dudes are going to take care of me.

"We've had a great week of practice. Those dudes are attacking it, and they're giving me a lot of confidence to go out there and play my best, too."

Though he has no consequential game experience as a pro, Love – who turned 23 on Tuesday – got first-team reps throughout the offseason as Rodgers was absent amid a dispute over his future with the team. 

Head coach Matt LaFleur said he is looking forward to seeing what his presumptive quarterback of the future can do against the Chiefs. 

"I think he's come a long way, but by no means is he a finished product," LaFleur said. "It's going to be a great opportunity for him to get his feet wet for the first time in a meaningful game, being that it's the regular season.

"So it'll be a great learning experience for him, and I'm just excited for his opportunity."

The Green Bay Packers head into Week 9 with a 7-1 record, though coach Matt LaFleur will have to figure out a way past the Kansas City Chiefs without his star quarterback.

Aaron Rodgers – who has thrown for 1,894 yards and made 17 touchdown passes this season – will miss his first Packers game since 2017 after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Arizona Cardinals are also now at 7-1 after losing their unbeaten record with a defeat to the Packers last week, and will be looking to get back to winning ways against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Los Angeles Rams are the only other team in the NFL that sits at 7-1 going into Week 9, and are set for a fascinating contest with the 6-2 Tennessee Titans.

 

Green Bay Packers (7-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (4-4)

Overcoming Rodgers' absence will be no easy feat for Green Bay. Since the 37-year-old took over as the starter in 2008, the Packers are 133-64-1 with him, and 6-11-1 without.

The Packers knocked off the last unbeaten team in Week 8 with a 24-21 win at Arizona and are now on a seven-game winning streak, their longest within a single season since going 13-0 in 2011 on their way to a 15-1 record. Their only loss that season came in Kansas City.

The Chiefs hold a 7-4-1 record over Green Bay, but the Packers have won three of the last four meetings. They most recently played in Week 8 in 2019, with the Packers triumphing 31-24 at Arrowhead. Kansas City went 10-1 following that game on their way to winning the Super Bowl.

Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs to that championship and since he took over as the starting quarterback in 2018, Kansas City have had just six games with 20 or fewer points, including the postseason. Three of those games have come this season (Weeks 5, 7 and 8).

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill had 12 receptions in the Chiefs' 20-17 win against the Giants on Monday, one shy of tying a career high (set in Week 12, 2020 at Tampa Bay). The Chiefs are 15-2 (regular and postseason) when Hill has at least eight receptions.

Arizona Cardinals (7-1) @ San Francisco 49ers (3-4)

This will be the second meeting in the NFC West for these two teams this season, with Arizona already enjoying a 17-10 home win over San Francisco in Week 5. It is, though, the only game in which the Cardinals have not scored at least 21 points this year. The Cardinals have won five of their last six road games against the Niners, with three of those wins coming by at least 10 points.

The 24 points scored against the Cardinals by the Packers in Week 8 in their first loss of the campaign was the second most allowed by Arizona this season (33 against Minnesota in Week 2). Their average of 17.3 points allowed per game ranks third in the NFL.

San Francisco beat the Chicago Bears 33-22 last week, breaking a four-game losing streak and scoring their most points since a 41-33 win over the Detroit Lions in Week 1. Since the start of last season, the Niners are 1-10 at home and 8-4 on the road.

Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 322 yards and ran for two touchdowns in Chicago. The only 49ers player with more passing yards in a game while also rushing for multiple scores is Steve Young, who had games with 355 yards (1994), 348 (1991) and 331 (1998).

Tennessee Titans (6-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (7-1)

Including their win in Super Bowl XXXIV, the Rams have an all-time record of 8-5 against the Titans/Oilers franchise. The Titans' last game at the Rams in southern California came in Week 9, 1990, which saw a 17-13 Rams win over the then-Oilers in Anaheim.

Tennessee beat the Indianapolis Colts 34-31 in overtime last Sunday. It was their third overtime game this year, tying the franchise record for most overtime games in a single season (1983).

The Rams, meanwhile, defeated the Houston Texans 38-22 after leading 38-0 heading into the fourth quarter. They are one of two teams (along with the Dallas Cowboys) to score at least 20 points in every game this season.

Cooper Kupp had 115 receiving yards and a touchdown in that win in Houston, his third straight 100-yard game. Kupp has 10 touchdown catches from the first eight games of the season, second in Rams history only to Elroy Hirsch (12 TDs in 1951).

Elsewhere...

The New England Patriots travel to Carolina to face the Panthers on Sunday, where Mac Jones is set to make history. The rookie quarterback has 1,997 passing yards in his eight games in the NFL so far. Drew Bledsoe currently holds the record for fewest games needed to reach 2,000 passing yards with the Patriots (11). Butch Songin and Tom Brady managed it in 12 games.

The Minnesota Vikings will be hoping to end Lamar Jackson's impressive record against NFC teams. The Baltimore Ravens quarterback is 11-0 all-time as a starter in those meets, throwing for 1,901 yards and 17 touchdowns while running for 995 yards with six scores. 

Despite differing seasons, it could be a close contest in Jacksonville. Including the playoffs, the Bills (5-2) and Jaguars (1-6) have split eight all-time encounters when the Jags are the home team, with both teams scoring exactly 161 points. 

A clash in the AFC North sees the Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) host the Cleveland Browns (4-4), where Joe Burrow will be trying to become the first quarterback in Bengals history to throw three or more touchdown passes in four straight games. Andy Dalton also had three straight games of three or more TD passes in October 2013.

The Green Bay Packers have been boosted by the return of star wide receiver Davante Adams from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Adams missed last week's 24-21 NFL win over the previously unbeaten Arizona Cardinals after testing positive for coronavirus on October 25.

The four-time Pro Bowler is now set to be available for Green Bay's showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, music to the ears of the Packers as reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers is sidelined due to COVID-19.

"It's great to see those guys," Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said before Thursday's practice. "They were fired up to be back. It's a huge benefit to this team."

Adams leads the Packers (7-1) with 52 catches and 744 yards with three touchdowns this season.

The Packers are on a seven-game winning streak – their longest within a single season since opening the 2011 campaign 13-0 on their way to a 15-1 record. Their lone loss that season came in Kansas City, per Stats Perform.

Rodgers will miss his first game since the 2017 season when he broke his right clavicle. Since he took over as the starter in 2008, the Packers are 133-64-1 (67.4) with Rodgers, and 6-11-1 (36.1) without him.

The Packers have been at their best in the second quarter, posting an NFL-best -plus 36-point differential (scored 77, allowed 41). Kansas City's minus-40-point differential (scored 51, allowed 91) in the second quarter ranks 28th in the league, and is their worst mark in any quarter this year.

Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur has no explanation for why Aaron Rodgers described himself as "immunised", with Patrick Mahomes disappointed to miss out on a meeting with the reigning NFL MVP.

Reports on Wednesday revealed Rodgers has tested positive for coronavirus and will miss a minimum of 10 days as he is not vaccinated.

Before the season, the quarterback said he was "immunised", causing some confusion as the Packers now face being without him for two key games.

Rodgers will certainly miss this week's matchup with Mahomes' Kansas City Chiefs and is only set to be cleared for practice the day before Green Bay play the Seattle Seahawks next week.

Asked about Rodgers' contentious wording, coach LaFleur said: "That's a great question for Aaron – I'm not going to comment on it."

The shock development means Rodgers' wait for a first game against Mahomes will go on, with Jordan Love instead in line for his first career start under center.

Mahomes, whose Chiefs are a hugely underwhelming 4-4, said: "It's definitely disappointing [not to play Rodgers].

"I've watched his game for a long time. I feel I play a similar style. You always want to compete against the best.

"Hopefully he's healthy and it's not too bad. I'm sure he'll come back from it stronger than he was before."

Rodgers has been at the forefront of NFL discussion throughout this season, having pushed for a trade away from his only professional team before the campaign begun.

He was then awful in the stunning 38-3 Week 1 defeat to the New Orleans Saints, throwing two interceptions with a passer rating of 36.8 – the fourth-worst of his career.

However, Rodgers has since led the Packers to seven straight wins, a run they will attempt to continue in his absence.

Aaron Rodgers has been ruled out of the Green Bay Packers' clash with the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive for COVID-19.

NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported Rodgers had returned a positive test, meaning he will not go head to head with Kansas City Chiefs superstar Patrick Mahomes in a blockbuster quarterback matchup.

Instead, Rodgers' backup and heir apparent Jordan Love, controversially drafted in the first round in 2020, will get the start for the 7-1 Packers.

Rodgers, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo, is not vaccinated against coronavirus, meaning he is out for a minimum of 10 days. Asked about his vaccination status back in August, Rodgers said he was "immunised".

The news comes after the Packers prevailed in their Week 8 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals despite COVID issues that meant they did not have the services of wide receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard as well as defensive coordinator Joe Barry.

Now the onus is on Love to prevail against the odds in his first start on the road at Arrowhead Stadium.

In Love's favour is the form of the Chiefs' defense, which is giving up a league-high 6.43 yards per play.

Mahomes and the Chiefs have also struggled mightily on offense by their usual high standards. He has thrown a league-leading 10 interceptions and was unconvincing in Monday's 20-17 win over the New York Giants that saw the Chiefs improve to 4-4.

Rodgers is still yet to face Mahomes, the 2018 MVP and MVP of Super Bowl LIV, in his storied NFL career.

Three-time MVP Rodgers and the Packers last faced the Chiefs in 2019, but Mahomes was sidelined with a knee injury. Green Bay prevailed 31-24.

Aaron Rodgers declared his love for the Green Bay Packers squad after Rasul Douglas proved the unlikely hero in a stunning win over the Arizona Cardinals.

The short-handed Packers ended the Cardinals' perfect start to the season while extending their winning streak to seven games following a 24-21 victory in the NFL on Thursday.

With 12 seconds remaining, Douglas was on hand to thwart the home team as he snatched the ball in the corner of the end zone from Kyler Murray's pass.

Douglas, who was previously with the Cardinals' practice squad, was only in action in the absence of Jaire Alexander and Kevin King.

"This is why I love this squad," Rodgers told Fox.

"The guy who made the pick was with them for four weeks. He was on the street, we brought him in, he's starting for us.

"He's a great dude and he's really meshed well with our team, and to come up with a play like that with 15 seconds left is incredible."

Rodgers, without wide receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, was 22-of-37 passing for 184 yards as Matt LaFleur's men got the job done in gritty fashion in Arizona.

"This is a scrappy team," Rodgers said. "This is a tough, physical, gritty team.

"I'm so proud of our guys. I'm so proud of our line. I'm having so much fun with these guys.

"We ran the ball well, we knew we could. It was tough in the passing game at times, but [Randall] Cobb came up with a couple big touchdown catches."

The red-hot Green Bay Packers ended the Arizona Cardinals' perfect start to the season while extending their winning streak to seven games following a 24-21 victory in the NFL on Thursday.

Kyler Murray's Cardinals had won seven consecutive games to open the season, but Arizona finally came unstuck against Aaron Rodgers and the high-flying Packers.

Rodgers (22-of-37 passing for 184 yards without an interception) threw two touchdown passes to Randall Cobb as the Packers held on to beat the Cardinals – playing for the first time without star defensive end JJ Watt – after Murray's stunning last-gasp interception.

Chase Edmonds' 11-yard run gave the Cardinals a first-quarter lead – the Arizona star had entered Week 8 with 397 rushing yards this season, the most by any player in the NFL without a rushing TD.

Rodgers and the Packers took control from that point as Jones' second-quarter TD run and Green Bay's superstar quarterback Rodgers' pass to Cobb in the third quarter put the visitors ahead 17-7.

James Conner did strike before the end of the third to close the gap to three points, though the Rodgers-Cobb combination struck again early in the fourth to make it 24-14 in the Packers' favour.

Conner's second rushing touchdown set up a thrilling finish but as the Cardinals attempted to rally to their eighth straight victory, Murray (22-of-33 passing for 274 yards, no TDs and two interceptions) threw an interception on second-and-goal with 12 seconds remaining – Rasul Douglas on hand to snatch the ball in the corner of the end zone.

Tom Brady joked about Aaron Rodgers becoming a "shareholder" of the Chicago Bears, while taking a shot at his old rival, the New York Jets.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar Brady sarcastically congratulated Green Bay Packers quarterback Rodgers on owning the Bears after the reigning MVP shouted "I still own you" at their fans after completing a fourth-quarter touchdown during Sunday's 24-14 NFL win.

The topic of ownership came up on Wednesday.

"I wanted to say congrats to Aaron Rodgers. Obviously, he's a great QB but I guess he's now a shareholder of the Bears," Brady quipped during his appearance on the Let's Go! podcast.

"I saw a clip of him really enthusiastically telling the crowd how happy he is to own Solider Field."

Podcast host Jim Gray joked that by that measure Brady owned the Jets, given his 29-7 career record against the New York franchise, but the 44-year-old and seven-time Super Bowl champion threw shade rather than be drawn it.

"Oh, no I'll just take the colour green. I don't need the Jets," the former New England Patriots quarterback said. "I'll just own the colour green, I think that's a little bit better."

Brady has thrown for 8,649 yards and 57 touchdowns against the Jets, who have not won the Super Bowl since 1968.

Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers told jeering Chicago Bears fans "I still own you" after the reigning NFL MVP inspired a 24-14 victory on the road.

Rodgers was at his brilliant best as he claimed his 22nd win over the Bears, the veteran quarterback throwing two touchdowns and running for another at Soldier Field.

His 22-5 record against the Bears ranks third-best for winning percentage (81.5) by a quarterback against a single opponent since 1950 (minimum 25 starts), behind Tom Brady (91.4 per cent against the Buffalo Bills) and Ben Roethlisberger (87.0 per cent against the Cleveland Browns).

As he left the field, Rodgers could be heard taunting Chicago supporters: "All my f****** life, I own you. I still own you. I still own you."

Rodgers finished 17-of-23 passing for 195 yards and no interceptions with a 128.0 passer rating as the Packers (5-1) won their fifth straight game.

The Super Bowl winner also reacted to one fan after his touchdown against the Bears.

"Sometimes you black out on the field – in a good way," Rodgers said. "I looked up in the stands and in the front row all I saw was a woman giving me the double bird.

"So I'm not sure exactly what came out of my mouth next."

"I love this rivalry. It's been a lot of fun over the years," Rodgers said. "That's what I told [Bears rookie] Justin [Fields] on the field. I said, 'Enjoy this. It's a special rivalry, unlike any other in our game.'"

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur added: "Listen, all I can say is: A lot of stuff gets said on the field that nobody ever hears.

"It's one of those moments of competition where things get said and ... I don't know what Aaron said about it, I'm sure you guys asked him. ... Again, it's a competitive game, and I think that's one of those moments where you see the competitor in Aaron come out."

The challenge of stopping Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens has proven beyond plenty of defensive teams during his still relatively young NFL career, and one of the finest defensive minds in the league was not up to the task in Week 6.

Jackson's meeting with fellow quarterback Justin Herbert was pegged as a battle between MVP candidates as the Ravens hosted the Los Angeles Chargers, and it is the Ravens star who has the stronger case after their dominant 34-6 win in a clash of 4-1 teams.

Brandon Staley was appointed as Chargers head coach on the back of his excellent performance in his one year as defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams.

His Rams defense allowed the fewest yards per play in the NFL last season, however, the Chargers have struggled mightily against the run in 2021, making them an enticing matchup for the league's premier dual-threat quarterback in Jackson.

As it happened Jackson was able to lighten the burden on his shoulders in terms of running the ball, Latavius Murray and Le'Veon Bell each going in for rushing scores to put the Ravens 14-0 to the good in the second quarter.

Reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert responded late in the half with a one-yard touchdown throw to Jared Cook after a Jackson interception, though the Chargers still trailed 17-6 at the half.

But a 12-play, 52-yard drive ended with Jackson hitting Mark Andrews for a nine-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and there was never a hint of a Chargers comeback thereafter.

Jackson's stat line, 19 of 27 passing for 167 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions with 51 yards on eight rushes, was pedestrian by his standards, but it was enough to give the Ravens the best record in the AFC as he claimed his 35th win, breaking Dan Marino's record for the most by a quarterback before his 25th birthday.

Chiefs remain unconvincing

Plenty wondered whether it was time to panic for the Kansas City Chiefs following their Week 5 loss to the Buffalo Bills in primetime last Sunday, which dropped them to 2-3.

Concerns about the two-time defending AFC champions were furthered after a first-half performance against the Washington Football Team that saw them trail 13-10 at the half.

Patrick Mahomes threw two interceptions, one off the hands of Tyreek Hill and another with an inexplicable decision to toss the ball up for grabs after fumbling the snap.

However, a touchdown pass to Hill and Darrel Williams' second rushing score of the game put Kansas City in command before Mahomes found Demarcus Robinson in the endzone to secure a 31-13 win that moves them within striking distance of the Chargers in the AFC West.

Five in a row for Packers

The Packers are far from the finished product at this stage of the season, but it is now five wins in a row for Green Bay after their 24-14 victory over NFC North rivals the Chicago Bears.

Aaron Rodgers averaged 8.5 yards per pass play and threw for two touchdowns, with the Packers quarterback reminding the Bears' fans at Soldier Field of his hold over the division after running for a score that effectively put the game to bed.

The Los Angeles Rams are also 5-1 after Matthew Stafford threw four touchdown passes in a 38-11 rout of the New York Giants.

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