The National Football League will punish teams if their unvaccinated players cause a game to be canceled, according to a league edict issued Thursday.
“If a game is cancelled/postponed because a club cannot play due to a Covid spike among or resulting from its non-vaccinated players/staff, then the burden of the cancellation or delay will fall on the club experiencing the Covid infection,” the memo stated, according to NFL.com.
The memo took a very different tone regarding the way teams will be treated if a team is unable to play because of infections among players who are vaccinated.
“We will seek to minimize the burden on the opposing club or clubs. If a club cannot play due to a Covid spike in vaccinated individuals, we will attempt to minimize the competitive and economic burden on both participating teams,” the memo said.
The memo caused a flurry of reactions.
Good question being asked here. Will NFL demand forfeits if players test positive for covid after getting the vaccine? My opinion: No league should be testing for covid any more at all. https://t.co/KpIW6J6mtV
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) July 22, 2021
The NFL is pretending vaccinated people don’t spread or inherit Covid while the unvaccinated, do. That’s a bold face lie and should be covered as such. https://t.co/JkBhtLW3A3
— Gary Sheffield Jr. (@GarysheffieldJr) July 22, 2021
DeAndre Hopkins deleted a tweet “questioning [his] future” in the NFL after the league announced any team with a COVID outbreak due to unvaccinated players could result in a forfeit pic.twitter.com/PsOeCWQy4u
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 22, 2021
But from Buffalo Bills receiver Cole Beasley, who had a lot to say about the NFL’s vaccination rules on Tuesday and sounded off on the topic last month, there was not a peep about the memo as of Thursday afternoon.
That’s all I’ve been saying. I’m not pushing anyone to do anything. Do what you want. Im testing every day. Once my test comes back negative my day will be just like those who are vaxxed. No restrictions. Rules are literally just to push everyone to do what they want them to. https://t.co/rL0dcCWIB7
— Cole Beasley (@Bease11) July 19, 2021
This is crazy. Did we vote on this? I stay in the hotel. We still have meetings. We will all be together. Vaccinated players can go out the hotel and bring covid back in to where I am. So what does it matter if I stay in the hotel now? 100 percent immune with vaccination? No. https://t.co/g61WM8zAOh
— Cole Beasley (@Bease11) June 17, 2021
The memo said that the NFL is approaching the season with the assumption that all games will be played, saying, “We do not anticipate adding a ’19th week’ to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled within the current 18 weeks of the regular season.”
“Every club is obligated under the Constitution and Bylaws to have its team ready to play at the scheduled time and place. A failure to do so is deemed conduct detrimental. There is no right to postpone a game. Postponements will only occur if required by government authorities, medical experts, or at the Commissioner’s discretion,” the memo said.
If unvaccinated players cause a cancellation, their team pays the price in more ways than one.
“If a game cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule and is cancelled due to a Covid outbreak among non-vaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the club with the outbreak will forfeit the contest and will be deemed to have played 16 games for purposes of draft, waiver priority, etc.,” the memo said.
“For the purposes of playoff seeding, the forfeiting team will be credited with a loss and the other team will be credited with a win,” the memo continued.
The punishments do not stop there.
“If a game is rescheduled due to a Covid outbreak among unvaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the club experiencing the outbreak will be responsible for all additional expenses incurred by the opposing team and will also be required to pay any shortfall between actual and expected payment to the VTS pool,” the league said. VTS stands for “Visiting Team Share.”
If under those circumstances the game can’t be rescheduled with the 18-week season, “that club will forfeit the contest and will be responsible for the lost payment to the VTS pool.”
The NFL is willing to spread the pain around, noting, “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.”
The memo also gave NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell the power to toss more punishments on the pile “if the Covid outbreak is reasonably determined to be the result of a failure by club personnel to follow applicable protocols.”
The memo also imposed different standards for vaccinated and unvaccinated players who test positive for the coronavirus. Vaccinated players who test positive can play after two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. For the unvaccinated, a positive test means a 10-day quarantine.
Vaccinated players do not have to quarantine if they come into contact with an infected individual, but unvaccinated players are required to go through five days of quarantine.
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