NFL: COVID-19 Outbreaks Among Unvaccinated Players Will Force Teams to Forfeit Games and Pay

It'll be no play, no pay for players who decline to get the jab and test positive for COVID-19

The NFL logo covers part of the field during a game.
There will be little safety net for NFL teams that have Covid-19 outbreaks this season (if the players are unvaccinated)
Getty Images

Unveiled to teams today and first reported by Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the NFL has finalized a COVID-19 policy for the 2021 season that makes it very apparent the league wants its players vaccinated and is reserving the right to severely penalize them, and their teams, for not doing so.

Per a memo that was sent out to franchises in the league, a COVID-19 breakout among unvaccinated players will result in the infected team forfeiting any affected games and potentially being held responsible for any financial losses. Also, if the league determines that health and safety protocols were violated, the commissioner can hand down additional discipline.

“Every club is obligated under the Constitution and Bylaws to have its team ready to play at the scheduled time and place,” per the memo. “A failure to do so is deemed conduct detrimental. There is no right to postpone a game.”

But that’s not all. In what is perhaps the biggest sign the NFL is dead serious about playing its schedule on time and without any complications, players on both teams will not get paid if a game is canceled and cannot be rescheduled due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Recognizing that the vaccine, which the NFL calls “safe” and “effective” is not 100% foolproof, the league’s new penalty policy does not extend to breakouts among vaccinated individuals.

The memo makes it clear there will not be a Week 19 added to the scheduled in order to accommodate COVID-19 complications and the point of the document is obvious: get the vaccine.

That’s pretty much the subtext of the whole memo,” Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network wrote on Twitter. “And as I said on air a short while ago, if you think players were pissed when their opponents’ outbreaks caused postponements, wait until neither team gets paid if a game is forfeited.”

Cole Beasley won’t be happy with this policy, but we are.

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