As the NFL approaches the 2021 season, the league informed clubs that it would not extend the season to accommodate a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players that causes a game cancellation. Unvaccinated NFL players will be subjected to a fine of $14,650 every time they violate COVID-19 procedures.
The NFL’s memo to NFL clubs stated that if a game cannot be rescheduled during the 18-week schedule due to a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak will forfeit and be credited with a loss, per sources informed of the situation.
In addition, 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.
Last year, the NFL bent over backwards to rework the schedule on the fly as outbreaks occurred. Zero games were missed over 17 weeks. In 2021, the NFL plans to play its 272-game slate over 18 weeks.
“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 stated in a highlighted portion.
The league has insisted it will not mandate vaccinations, but the restrictions in place for non-vaccinated players and potential penalties to teams make the NFL’s stance clear.
“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 states. “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.”