SEC commissioner Greg Sankey surprised many in the college football community Monday when he said that teams could be made to forfeit if they cannot play in any given week this fall because of COVID-19 absences and/or other issues.
The NFL has gone several steps further to encourage all players to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as soon as possible.
On Thursday, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero delivered a bombshell of a report regarding a league memo that says teams will forfeit and be given a loss if unable to field a squad for a scheduled game because of a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players.
The NFL just informed clubs that if a game cannot be rescheduled during the 18-week season in 2021 due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak will FORFEIT and be credited with a loss for playoff seeding, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 22, 2021
Additionally, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could punish clubs responsible for an outbreak if they haven't hit at least the 85% vaccination threshold required for the loosening of certain health and safety protocols. As of now, the league does not intend to add an extra week to complete rescheduled games.
The league intends to play its entire 272-game schedule over 18 weeks (17 games per club). And this is key:— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 22, 2021
"We do not anticipate adding a '19th week' to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled within the current 18 weeks of the regular season."
Play on time or don't play.
More strong language from today's NFL memo:— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 22, 2021
"Every club is obligated under the Constitution and Bylaws to have its team ready to play at the scheduled time and place. A failure to do so is deemed conduct detrimental. There is no right to postpone a game."
This is the NFL's strongest step yet to incentivize vaccinations. In essence, vaccination status dictates action:— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 22, 2021
"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."
The NFL and NFL Players Association have previously said they cannot mandate players get vaccinated against COVID-19, but the league is now threatening to withhold pay if a game is canceled because of a coronavirus outbreak among unvaccinated personnel.
And the biggest penalty of all for players:— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 22, 2021
"If a game is cancelled and cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week scheduled due to a Covid outbreak, neither team’s players will receive their weekly paragraph 5 salary."
You read that right: NOBODY GETS PAID.
Earlier in the day, NFL Media's Judy Battista reported only 14 clubs have reached the 85% vaccination mark among players. She added over 78% of players league-wide have received at least one vaccine shot.
Expect those numbers to begin to rise dramatically through and beyond the start of training camp sessions around the NFL.
NFL Network's Mike Garafolo elaborated: