During the 2020 season, NFL teams were required to have their teams stay in hotels the night before both road and home game as part of their Covid protocols. That hotel policy carried over into the 2021 season, something Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers said affected his physical well-being before the Packers game against Washington.
Aaron Rodgers says his back was “a little stiff” Saturday. His thoughts: “There’s an antiquated thing in our league where on the most important night of sleep in our week, we stay at a hotel.”
He says no shade on the hotel, “it’s a nice hotel,” but his own bed would be best.
— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) October 24, 2021
After his team won 24-10 against Washington at Lambeau Field on October 24th, Rodgers thanked a team trainer and chiropractor for helping him cope with a stiff back, something that required attention prior to the game. Then Rodgers explained why he felt like he woke up with the sore back in the first place, saying:
“My back was a little stiff Saturday, and maybe you guys know this or don’t know this, but there’s an antiquated procedural thing in our league where the most important night of sleep, we stay at a hotel, and I don’t want to blame it on the hotel — it’s a nice hotel — but my bed at the house that I’m sleeping in every other night of my time here in Green Bay would probably be a little bit of a better option, I think, and that’s just my opinion.”
Media reports suggest that some teams did have their players stay in hotels prior to home games prior to the 2020 season, but not all teams did. Starting last season and remaining in place this year, the NFL requires all teams to put their players up in hotels prior to home games, something the Players’ Association would have likely needed to agree to before the rule went into effect.
Rodgers, who is no longer shy about calling out the Packers or the NFL, is right to call out this rule, which defies the spirit of teams having a home game since, like on the road, they are burdened with the hassle of checking in and out of a hotel prior to a game in their own stadium. When you add the physical and mental issues that surround doing something like this, is there any wonder why the NFL’s home field advantage is no longer as valuable as it once was, and is showing up on the scoreboard week in and week out?
Perhaps Rodgers’ comments will spur the union to ask for medical waivers for certain players to bypass this rule. Otherwise, I think Rodgers probably needs to point a finger at his own union representation as much as the NFL for this backwards rule that makes it appear that players can’t be trusted on a Saturday night before home games … something that says more about Rodgers’ fellow players than anything else. Or, perhaps, Rodgers is just getting too old for today’s NFL players and both the union and the league know that modern day athletes are just not capable of being left alone on a Saturday, even when there is a game 12 hours before they may head out. Either way, if the NFL believes it still needs this hotel policy after this season, it is not a good sign for teams or the athletes.