When the Green Bay Packers enter the field to play the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday, wide receiver Allen Lazard will not be available.
Lazard is the second wide receiver with the most receiving yards in the team, trailing only Davante Adams, who is also out for the game against Arizona.
Lazard grew into the role of wide receiver number two when Marquez Valdes-Scantling went to the injured reserve. Now Aaron Rodgers won't have his three main receiving options for a crucial game for home-field advantage in the NFC.
Adams tested positive for COVID-19 after Sunday's game, and won't be available to return in time. Lazard's case is a little bit more complicated than that, even if it's related to Adams being out.
Allen Lazard had close contact to a positive person, should be out of the facility for at least five days
Lazard will be out of Thursday's game because of the NFL protocols put in place for the 2021 season regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. He's not injured, but he's not allowed to play either.
As an unvaccinated player, Lazard is subject to the same rules as those from 2020. This means that, if a player has close contact with someone who tested positive, then the player needs to stay away from the facility for five days.
Lazard came in contact with Adams, who's vaccinated but still contracted the virus. That's why he will be out for Thursday's game against the Cardinals.
It's not as simple as saying that the vaccinated player contracted the virus while the unvaccinated player didn't. That's not how vaccines are supposed to work. They are supposed to immensely lower your danger of contracting the virus and, if you still catch it, the vaccines will then diminish the effects. That's why it's so important for everybody to get vaccinated: the spread diminishes much quicker when more people get the protection.
If Lazard had contracted the virus, he could become a super-spreader and the main source of an outbreak inside the facility, which would be a much bigger problem for the Packers to deal with.
Can Allen Lazard be punished for not taking the vaccine?
The NFL considers the players' decision whether to get the vaccine or not a personal choice, and no team is allowed to force any player to take the jab.
But vaccines are definitely a competitive advantage. Take Lazard himself as an example: had he been vaccinated, he would not have had to miss the game even as a close-contact. Now, the Packers will be down an important wide receiver because Lazard decided not to get the protection shot.