The NFL has taken a strong stance on the COVID-19 vaccination and just announced that any teams that need to postpone any games in the upcoming season due to coronavirus outbreaks amongst unvaccinated players or staff will not be rescheduled. The league also said that the team responsible for the delay or breakout will automatically forfeit the game and it will not be rescheduled.
“If a game is cancelled [or] postponed because a club cannot play due to a Covid spike among or resulting from its non-vaccinated players [or] staff, then the burden of the cancellation or delay will fall on the club experiencing the Covid infection. 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,” explained the league in a memo to the teams this week.
The NFL Network reports that vaccinated players or staff who test positive and are asymptomatic can return to duty after two negative tests 24 hours apart. For non-vaccinated persons who test positive, the 2020 protocols remain in place, requiring a 10-day isolation. In essence, the NFL is telling its clubs to up their efforts to convince players to get vaccinated or the burden of risk falls on the team should an outbreak occur.
The NFL also stated that players on both teams will not be paid for the lost contest, and the team responsible for the cancelled game due to unvaccinated players will cover financial losses and be subject to potential discipline from the Commissioner’s office.
“We do not anticipate adding a ’19th week’ to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled within the current 18 weeks of the regular season,” the memo also read.
The NFL’s regular season is scheduled to start on Sept. 9, 2021, with defending Super Bowl LV champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Kickoff Game.