Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, pushed back on the notion put forth by Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers that the league’s COVID-19 protocols, established in conjunction with the NFL Players Association, are based on anything other than science and data.
“We’ve been very consistent,” Sills told reporters during a conference call on Wednesday. “First of all, these are things that we decided collectively with the players association (NFLPA). They’re always based on science. The science that at best we understand for public health, but also our own data. We are constantly looking at our own data in every way possible, to see where we might still be vulnerable and what parts of our protocols we think are particularly effective. So, we’re very comfortable with what we’ve put in place being driven by our data and is working.”
Sills didn’t mention Rodgers by name but responded to a question from USA TODAY Sports stemming from comments by the Packers quarterback.
Rodgers said during a Nov. 5 appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” that he didn’t believe the NFL’s COVID-19 rules were based on science.
“Some of the rules to me are not based in science at all,” said Rodgers, two days after he tested positive for COVID-19 and began a mandatory 10-day quarantine that would force him to miss one game. “They are based purely in trying to out and shame people, like needing to wear a mask at a podium when everyone in the room is vaccinated and wearing a mask makes no sense to me.”
Rodgers returned to the Packers last weekend in accordance with the NFL/NFLPA COVID-19 protocols.
On Tuesday, the NFL announced that it is strengthening the protocols. Sills said the measure was motivated largely by two factors: an increase in positive tests, including the highest number league-wide all season, and the approach of Thanksgiving, with increased risk upon seeing family and friends.
Sills also said he is encouraged by the self-reporting of COVID-19 symptoms by some players (such as Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which led to a positive test); and that the protocols have helped mitigate the spread of the type of outbreaks at team headquarters that wreaked havoc last year before vaccinations were developed and available.
“I know sometimes people see cases and say, ‘Well, if they are positive cases, the vaccines must not be working’ “ Sills said. “We have to always be reminded that the vaccines are designed to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. And they continue to do an outstanding job with that.
“In addition to that, unvaccinated players have consistently tested players at a much higher rate than vaccinated players. Throughout the entire season, that’s…since we started back in July. it’s clear that the vaccines are providing substantial benefits — milder illness, shorter duration and a lack of spread around the building.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.