NFL Teams Face Potential Forfeits For COVID-19 Outbreaks

If a COVID-19 epidemic occurs among nonvaccinated athletes, NFL teams may be forced to forfeit regular-season games, with players on both teams receiving no compensation.

In a memo acquired by The Associated Press on Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell cautioned the 32 clubs that no games would be rescheduled in such situations. Instead, forfeits may be used.

“We learned last year that if we stick to our health and safety standards and make the necessary modifications in reaction to changing conditions, we can play a complete season,” Goodell said.

He also stated that the league has no plans to create the 19th week to accommodate games that must be rescheduled due to coronavirus concerns.

“If a game is canceled due to a COVID epidemic among non-vaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the team with the outbreak will forfeit and be judged to have played 16 games for purposes of draught, waiver priority, and other considerations,” Goodell said.

The forfeiting team would be given a defeat and the opposing team would be given a victory for postseason seeding reasons.

If a viral epidemic occurs as a result of an “increase in vaccinated persons,” the document states, “We shall endeavor to minimize the competitive and economic impact on both participating teams.”

Vaccinations are not required by the NFL. The NFL Players Association and the league, on the other hand, are pushing club workers and players to do so.

In the midst of the epidemic last year, the NFL finished its season, playoffs, and Super Bowl on time. However, it has contingency preparations in place for an additional 18th week to play make-up games if necessary. Several postponements were made, but no cancellations were made.

The regular season has been increased to 17 games for 2021.

More than half of the league’s clubs have COVID-19 vaccination rates of more than 80%, and more than 75% of players are in the process of being vaccinated, according to the league. By the end of next week, all training camps will be open.

Vaccination of Tier 1 and 2 personnel — mainly players, coaches, and other club members who have direct contact with the players — is nearly universal. In accordance with the April guideline, teams have established suitable processes for employees who have not been vaccinated.

In response to Goodell’s message, the players’ union reminded its members that “the same fundamental regulations applied last year.”

The NFLPA letter noted Thursday that the only difference this year is the NFL’s determination to impose extra fines on teams that are culpable for the epidemic and the availability of proven vaccinations.

“The protocols we decided on together helped us go through a whole season without missing game inspections last year, and they are effective when followed.”

Ezekiel Elliott, a Dallas Cowboys running back who was afflicted with the coronavirus last year, termed the vaccination “a sensitive issue,” though he said he had been inoculated.

At Cowboys training camp, Elliott remarked, “You can’t really instruct someone what to do with their physique.” “I grew up in a home where we didn’t receive vaccines, so telling someone who has been told their whole life not to get vaccines to go get vaccinated is difficult. So, you know, it’s everyone’s body, and you can’t tell people what to do.”

In terms of possible forfeits, he added:

“A cheque is only a piece of paper; you can’t place a price on someone’s health or what they believe would make them feel good or bad. As I already stated, you’re treading on thin ice.

The league’s message also contains the following essential points:

— If a vaccinated individual test positive but is asymptomatic, he or she will be separated and contact tracing will be conducted as soon as possible. After two negative tests spaced at least 24 hours apart, the positive individual will be allowed to return to duty and will be tested every two weeks or as recommended by the medical professionals. Individuals who have been vaccinated will not be placed in quarantine as a result of close contact with an infectious person.

If an unvaccinated person tests positive, the 2020 guidelines will be followed. If the person is not symptomatic after 10 days of isolation, he or she will be allowed to return to duty. If an unvaccinated person comes into intimate contact with an infectious person, they will be subjected to a five-day quarantine.

— COVID-19 infection survivors will be deemed completely immunized 14 days after receiving at least one dose of an authorized vaccine.

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