Advertisement

NFL warns COVID-19 outbreaks among unvaccinated players could lead to forfeits

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, shown Jan. 29, 2020, informed the 32 clubs of the new policy Thursday in a memo. The league has encouraged players to get vaccinated but hasn't required it, per an agreement with the NFL Players Association. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, shown Jan. 29, 2020, informed the 32 clubs of the new policy Thursday in a memo. The league has encouraged players to get vaccinated but hasn't required it, per an agreement with the NFL Players Association. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

July 22 (UPI) -- The NFL has warned teams that COVID-19 outbreaks among unvaccinated players could result in forfeited games and the loss of game checks this season.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell informed the 32 clubs of the new policy Thursday in a memo. The league has encouraged players to get vaccinated but hasn't required it, per an agreement with the NFL Players Association.

Advertisement

In Thursday's memo, the NFL said if a game can't be rescheduled during the 18-week regular-season schedule due to a coronavirus outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak will forfeit and be credited with a loss.

In addition, players on both teams won't be paid for the canceled matchup, and the team responsible for the lost game due to unvaccinated players will cover financial losses and be subject to possible discipline from the league.

RELATED All-Pro LB Fred Warner agrees to 5-year, $95 million extension with 49ers

"These operating principles are designed to allow us to play a full season in a safe and responsible way and address possible competitive or financial issues fairly," Goodell wrote.

"While there is no question that health conditions have improved from last year, we cannot be complacent or simply assume that we will be able to play without interruption -- either due to COVID outbreaks among our clubs or outbreaks that occur within the larger community.

Advertisement

"These principles are intended to help inform decisions, recognizing that, as in 2020, we will need to remain flexible and adapt to possibly changing conditions."

RELATED Pittsburgh Steelers LB Vince Williams retires after eight NFL seasons

A cancellation never occurred in the 2020 campaign, as the league managed to reschedule all of the games it postponed last year. However, it's possible the NFL might not go to the same lengths -- such as playing games on a Tuesday or Wednesday -- as it did during the 2020 season.

"Whether to reschedule a postponed game will be dependent on health and safety reasons at the recommendation of medical experts as well as considerations of stadium availability, schedule integrity, fan convenience, and other appropriate matters," the memo read.

Many NFL players took to social media to voice their opinions about the new COVID-19 policy, including Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

RELATED Kansas City Chiefs to re-sign DE Alex Okafor to 1-year deal

In a since-deleted tweet, Hopkins said he would "question" his future in the NFL if it meant not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine could possibly hurt his team in 2021.

"Never thought I would say this, but being in a position to hurt my team because I don't want to partake in the vaccine is making me question my future in the @NFL," he wrote.

Advertisement

Hopkins later tweeted, however, that he has "[nine] more years left in me."

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey responded to a tweet by quarterbacks coach Quincy Avery, saying: "I know [two] people right now who got the vaccine but are COVID positive. I'm just saying. I wouldn't look at a teammate as bad if he don't get the vax."

Hopkins offered a response to Ramsey's tweets by saying that his girlfriend's brother started having heart issues after getting vaccinated.

Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott said he received the COVID-19 vaccine, but he doesn't believe that decision should be forced on other players.

"I got the vaccine just because I wanted to put myself in the best situation to be out there for my team week in and week out," he said. "But I mean, not everyone feels that strongly or maybe other people still have their views of vaccines.

"You can't force someone to do something that they don't want to do to their body."

New England Patriots linebacker Matt Judon, meanwhile, expressed his frustration with the NFL's new policy with a tweet that read: "The NFLPA [expletive] sucks."

Advertisement

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette indicated in a tweet that he won't receive the vaccine. He later deleted the tweet.

Latest Headlines