The NFL is putting its foot down when it comes to COVID-19 outbreaks during the 2021 season.
Over a dozen games were rescheduled due to the virus during the 2020 NFL season and now the NFL is pushing to ensure there are no cancellations and few rescheduled games in 2021. The league sent out a memo on Thursday, which was in part shared by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. The memo details new rules as it relates to rescheduled and canceled games during the upcoming season.
If a game cannot be played during the 18-week regular season, specifically due to a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players, teams will be forced to forfeit that game. The forfeiture will count as a loss and be credited toward playoff seeding. Teams that are deemed responsible for an outbreak will also be responsible for repaying financial losses and subject to potential discipline from the league depending on the circumstances of the outbreak.
On top of all that, players on both teams will not be paid their weekly game salary if a game is forfeited due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
While these new rules don’t officially mandate that players be vaccinated against COVID-19, it’s pushing teams to ensure that their players and staff members have been vaccinated. The harsh discipline doesn’t just impact the teams and their bottom line, but it impacts the players and their bottom line too. It also seems to pit vaccinated and unvaccinated players against each other when it comes to potential loss of wages.
The hope here seems to be that this will encourage teams to continue to educate, promote and inspire their players and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the start of the 2021 NFL season. Let’s hope that’s the case and that things get off to a smooth start with cases of COVID-19 variants on the rise and football season rapidly approaching.