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
Ranking the Roster: Nos. 19-21 – Myers, Barnes, Dillon
Second-round pick Josh Myers is following in a long line of top Packers centers, while Krys Barnes and AJ Dillon are ready for more in Year 2.
Packers Sign Amari Rodgers, Make Moves with Deguara, McDuffie
The Packers placed second-year tight end Josiah Deguara on the physically unable to perform list and rookie linebacker Isaiah McDuffie on the non-football injury list.