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Packers Continue To Grapple with COVID-19

Getting through the 2020 season was challenging and expensive. Getting through 2021 will present new challenges.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – COVID-19 didn’t only take a big bite out of the Green Bay Packers’ revenue, but it also impacted expenses, too.

Paul Baniel, the team’s vice president of finance and administration, said the Packers spent somewhere in the “middle seven figures” on all the steps necessary to get through the pandemic-plagued 2020 NFL season.

The daily testing of players, coaches and other key staff members was the biggest expense. Those cost about $120 apiece, team President and CEO Mark Murphy said on Friday.

“That adds up quickly,” he added.

The Packers will start training camp on July 27 with a theme of “Back to Football.” The NFL’s theme might be “Back to Normal.” While the delta variant of COVID has some health officials on alert, the NFL and Packers expect the season to be played as usual. That starts with fans allowed at training camp and capacity crowds for games. That was not the case last year, when Green Bay spent most of the season as the hardest-hit NFL city in terms of daily COVID rates.

However, fans attending games at Lambeau Field won’t have to show proof of vaccination. Fans who aren’t vaccinated are supposed to follow CDC recommendations on masking but, at this point, it will be the honor system. And, chances are, a large percentage of unvaccinated fans will be unmasked, as well.

At the same time, players don’t have to be vaccinated, either. During offseason practices, coaches such as Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur tried to use their power of persuasion but, ultimately, vaccination will be an individual choice.

“Obviously, that’s something that each team is dealing with,” Murphy said. “At the league level, the protocols that have been put in place provide very strong incentives for players to be vaccinated.”

Chief among those is unvaccinated players will have to go through the unpleasant business of being tested every day. Vaccinated players will have to go through testing every 14 days.

Moreover, Murphy noted, “When you start thinking about the bye week and being able to get away and travel during the bye week, if you’re not vaccinated, you can’t do it. You’re going to be in Green Bay and have to get tested every day.” Also, unvaccinated players who test positive for COVID-19 will miss out on game-day roster bonuses.

“I think Matt’s done an excellent job of really working with our players, really talking about how safe and effective the vaccine is,” Murphy said. “I think we, as well as every team across the league, we’re doing everything we can to encourage people to get vaccinated — not just our players, but our fans. We’re all in this together. It’s a community effort and the more we all get vaccinated, the safer we all are.”

Countdown to Packers Training Camp

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Training Camp schedule

30 Days Until Training Camp: Potential cuts

29 Days Until Training Camp: First-year starting QBs

28 Days: Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon and top running back tandems

27 Days: Record-setting red-zone dominance

26 Days: In Wisconsin sports, misery loves company

25 Days: Matt LaFleur's record-setting start

24 Days: The triumph of turnovers and the one that got away

23 Days: Jaire Alexander

22 Days: Green Bay's record-setting second quarter

21 Days: Aaron Jones' place in NFL history

20 Days: How many kicks has Crosby missed since 2018 at Detroit?

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19 Days: Eliminating big-play passes

18 Days: The snubbed star, Za'Darius Smith

17 Days: Davante Adams' dominance

16 Days: Marquez Valdes-Scantling fills need for speed

15 Days: These five players must rebound

14 Days: 53-man roster projection

13 Days: Quarterbacks preview

12 Days: Running backs preview

Ranking the Roster

Nos. 46-48: Randy Ramsey, Oren Burks, Ty Summers

Nos. 49-51: Jace Sternberger, Dominique Dafney, Hunter Bradley

Nos. 52-54: Yosh Nijman, Ben Braden, Simon Stepaniak

No. 55: Cole Van Lanen

Nos. 56-58: Isaiah McDuffie, Jonathan Garvin, Tipa Galeai

Nos. 59-61: Kurt Benkert, Juwann Winfree, Malik Taylor

Nos. 62-64: Patrick Taylor, Dexter Williams, Isaac Nauta

Nos. 65-67: Ka'dar Hollman, Kabion Ento, Stanford Samuels

Nos. 68-70: Jake Hanson and two specialist challengers

Nos. 71-74: Christian Uphoff, Henry Black, Innis Gaines, Jake Dolegala

Nos. 75-77: Coy Cronk, Willington Previlon, Jack Heflin

Nos. 78-80: Delontae Scott, Carlo Kemp, Bronson Kaufusi

No. 81: WR Bailey Gaither

Nos. 82-84: WRs Reggie Begelton, Chris Blair, DeAndre Thompkins

Nos. 85-88: LBs Ray Wilborn, Scoota Harris; OL Zach Johnson, Jacob Capra

No. 89: G Jon Dietzen

No. 90: K JJ Molson