On Thursday, the NFL sent out a memo to all teams informing, in great detail, exactly what they plan to do to incentivize players to get vaccinated ahead of the upcoming season. One of the biggest details within the jam-packed memo was that the NFL may be forced to hand teams losses that affect postseason standings should they have games cancelled due to an outbreak within their organization.
Tom Pelissero had the news first.
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
For those that haven’t dove into the memo just yet, it essentially sounds like the NFL is doing everything in it’s power to incentivize players into getting the vaccine — whether it’s positively or negatively motivated — without actually forcing everyone to get the shot. One of the biggest reasons the league isn’t likely mandating the vaccine for its players is that there’s a full expectation that the NFLPA will object to such an action.
As things stand, the NFL will allow vaccinated players who test positive for COVID-19 to return to play if they’re able to show two negative tests each as long as they’re 24 hours apart. An unvaccinated player will have to do a mandatory quarantine no matter what. This is still on top of the already limited life unvaccinated players will have to go through during the season which already includes not being able to eat with teammates and coaches and the lack of freedom during trips for road games.
According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, these incentives have caused a spike on NFL players getting the vaccine, lifting up a number of teams closer — or over — the 85 percent threshold. As of today, no team remains under 50 percent vaccinated.
Updated player vaccination numbers: 78 percent of NFL players have had at least one vaccine dose; 14 teams have more than 85 percent of their players vaccinated; no team is below 50 percent.— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) July 22, 2021
And now for a pretty big statement by the NFL:
“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.”
Yes, you read that right.
If a game is postponed and cannot be made up within the season’s 18-week schedule, neither player on either team will get paid. It will not matter if a player is on the team that doesn’t have the outbreak, no one is getting their game check for that week.
I guess if you want to hit someone where it hurts the most, aim at their pockets.
Will this help raise vaccination rates across the league? I think that’s a foregone conclusion, but this likely isn’t the end of the topic by any stretch of the imagination.