NFL says COVID outbreaks among unvaccinated players may result in forfeiting games, loss of pay in new policy


The NFL is continuing to come down hard on unvaccinated players as a new memo released Thursday states that teams could potentially forfeit a game due to a COVID-19 outbreak amongst unvaccinated players.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said in the memo, obtained by The Associated Press, that the league does not intend to add another week to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled due to an outbreak. 

“As we learned last year, we can play a full season if we maintain a firm commitment to adhering to our health and safety protocols and to making needed adjustments in response to changing conditions,” he said. 

Commissioner Roger Goodell said in the memo, obtained by The Associated Press, that the league does not intend to add another week to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled due to an outbreak.  (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Commissioner Roger Goodell said in the memo, obtained by The Associated Press, that the league does not intend to add another week to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled due to an outbreak.  (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

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“If a game can’t be rescheduled and is canceled due to a COVID outbreak among non-vaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the team with the outbreak will forfeit and will be deemed to have played 16 games for purposes of draft, waiver priority, etc.”

In addition to forfeiting, if a game can’t be made up in the 18-week schedule, players on both teams will not be paid for the game. 

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The league’s updated policy for vaccinated persons back in June was met with harsh backlash by several players, most notably Buffalo Bills’ wide receiver Cole Beasley, who said he would rather retire than get vaccinated.

Thursday’s memo included further changes including positive COVID tests for vaccinated and unvaccinated players. Those who do test positive and have received the vaccine will be able to return after two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. Those without the vaccine will have to abide by the 2020 policy, which includes a 10-day quarantine. 

The league’s updated policy for vaccinated persons back in June was met with harsh backlash by several players, most notably Buffalo Bills’ wide receiver Cole Beasley who said he would rather retire than get vaccinated.  (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The league’s updated policy for vaccinated persons back in June was met with harsh backlash by several players, most notably Buffalo Bills’ wide receiver Cole Beasley who said he would rather retire than get vaccinated.  (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

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Also, vaccinated players who come in contact with an infected person will not have to quarantine while unvaccinated players must enter a five-day quarantine. 

“We know that vaccines are safe and effective and are the best step anyone can take to be safe from the coronavirus,” the memo reads.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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