The COVID-19 pandemic caused major changes to sports schedules over the last year and a half. The National Football League outlined new procedures for the upcoming 2021 season that could cost players and teams if an outbreak occurs.
What Happened: A league-wide memo sent from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell highlighted the changes to the upcoming season, summarized by ESPN’s Kevin Seifert.
- If a game can’t be rescheduled in the 18-week NFL season and is canceled due to an outbreak from non-vaccinated players, the team that caused the outbreak will forfeit the game.
- Players on any team in a game that is forfeited will not receive their weekly salary.
“This memo marks an acceleration in the NFL’s push to increase vaccination numbers. Punishes teams in certain situations if they have Covid-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players, both in the standings and financially,” Seifert said.
Why It’s Important: Last season, the NFL was able to reschedule all games that were postponed. This contingency plan puts pressure on teams to push players to get vaccinated and lower the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Unvaccinated players face different protocols during training camp and the regular season.
“These operating principles are designed to allow us to play a full season in a safe and responsible way,” Goodell said.
The league has encouraged all teams to have players vaccinated, but can’t require vaccinations due to an agreement with the NFLPA.
Goodell said around 75% of players are at least partially vaccinated and over half the league’s teams have vaccination rates of 80% or higher.
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