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NFL threatens forfeits for COVID-19 violations

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said teams now lose picks in the NFL Draft if they violate the league's COVID-19 protocol. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said teams now lose picks in the NFL Draft if they violate the league's COVID-19 protocol. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 6 (UPI) -- The NFL has introduced new penalties -- including game forfeits -- for teams that fail to comply with the league's COVID-19 protocol.

Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all 32 teams detailing new measures for increased safety and the discipline teams and players could face for failing to comply.

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"Protocol violations that result in virus spread requiring adjustments to the schedule or otherwise impacting other teams will result in additional financial and competitive discipline, including the adjustment or loss of draft choices or even the forfeit of a game," Goodell said in the memo.

The league already had implemented penalties, such as fining players, coaches and teams, and for teams to lose draft picks for failing to follow safety guidelines, wear personal protective equipment and use proper social distancing.

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Several coaches have been fined since the season began in September for not wearing masks on the sidelines during games. Teams also faced fines.

The league also fined 10 Raiders players Monday for violations of its protocol when the attended a charity event last week in Nevada.

The Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers had their game postponed on Sunday after a group of 20 people -- among Titans players and staff members -- tested positive for COVID-19 between Sept. 24 and Oct. 4. The Titans returned no positive results on Monday or Tuesday.

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The Titans-Steelers game was moved to Oct. 25. The NFL also moved the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens game from Oct. 25 to Nov. 1 as a result of the outbreak.

The league also moved a Week 4 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots from Sunday to Monday after one Patriots player and one Chiefs player tested positive for COVID-19.

The NFL last week extended its daily COVID-19 testing to include bye weeks amid the Titans outbreak. Players now must remain in their home cities even if they don't have a game that week.

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Monday's NFL memo also said the league will use video monitoring to ensure safety policies are being followed at team facilities and players and staff are wearing personal protective equipment.

League and players union representatives traveled to Nashville last week to monitor the Titans outbreak. Titans team facilities have been closed since Sept. 29, but could reopen if the team continues to return negative test results.

The Titans are scheduled to host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in Nashville.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Tom Brady warms up before the game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago on Thursday, where the Bears won 20-19. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

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