The NFL made an important announcement on Thursday that appears designed to increase the amount of vaccinated NFL players. The league announced that teams which are unable to play games due to COVID-19 outbreaks among unvaccinated players will forfeit games that can’t be rescheduled within the 18-week regular season.
The NFL just informed clubs that if a game cannot be rescheduled during the 18-week season in 2021 due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak will FORFEIT and be credited with a loss for playoff seeding, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 22, 2021
In addition, players on BOTH teams won’t be paid for games that aren’t played as well. So even if it’s the other team’s fault that a game is not being played, players on both teams will be punished. It seems a good bet that peer pressure will work to boost the vaccination rate across the league.
Here’s more from today’s memo, which also says the team responsible for a canceled game because of an outbreak among unvaccinated players/staff will be responsible for financial losses and subject to potential discipline from the commissioner. Wow. pic.twitter.com/Q86a2WcG1K— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 22, 2021
Some key takeaways:
“We do not anticipate adding a 19th week to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled.”
“If a game is cancelled and cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule due to a Covid outbreak, neither team’s players will receive their weekly paragraph 5 salary.”
This appears to be Commissioner Roger Goodell pointing a gun at the 32 franchises and saying “get the vaccine, or get some problems.” This should ratchet up the peer pressure in locker rooms with teammates holding each other accountable for their status. At same time, it’s unclear how the specific part about forfeiting player pay would hold up before an arbitrator.
The Colts and the Washington Football Team are the two worst franchises in terms of vaccination rates, with both clubs under 50% as of last week. There are also a cadre of outspoken players, such as Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley, who have publicly stated their aversion to receiving the shots that have been proven safe and effective in guarding against severe COVID-19 symptoms for those vaccinated.