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#pounditSaturday, September 18, 2021

NFL teams could be forced to forfeit games over COVID-19 outbreaks

Roger Goodell

The NFL has put a number of protocols in place to encourage players and team personnel to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and refusal to get vaccinated could now be the difference between a win and loss.

In a memo that was issued to teams on Thursday, the NFL outlined its plans for dealing with coronavirus outbreaks during the 2021 season. The biggest takeaway was that teams could be forced to forfeit if a game cannot be played due to a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players. The NFL has no plans to add a 19th week to accommodate games that need to be rescheduled, which means any game that is rescheduled will have to be played at some point within the 18-week season. Otherwise, the team with the outbreak will be credited with a loss.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero shared more from the memo, which states that teams with outbreaks could also face disciplinary action and be responsible for financial losses. Players also will not receive their game checks if a game cannot be played.

The NFL already has different rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated players and staff. Those who are vaccinated have received more freedom and are not under as strict protocol.

A report this week claimed the NFL is working on ways to identify unvaccinated players during games and practices by providing visual proof. That would likely lead to “vaccine shaming,” which is the goal for some. Others feel outing those who have chosen not to receive a vaccine would be a gross violation of privacy.

Some teams have already achieved over 85 percent vaccination rates among teams. However, a recent report said at least two teams were under 50 percent. Altogether, about 73 percent of players in the NFL are vaccinated.

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