The risk of a COVID outbreak just became a whole lot costlier for NFL teams this season.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the league has informed clubs that if games cannot be rescheduled during the 18-week season if there is a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated player.
Instead, the team with the outbreak must forfeit the game and it will count as a loss for playoff seeding.
In addition, teams responsible for a canceled game will also be responsible for financial losses and subject to potential discipline from the commissioner.
The memo also notes that any vaccinated individual who tests positive and is asymptomatic can return after two negative tests 24 hours apart, while an unvaccinated individual is subject to a mandatory 10-day isolation period.
The memo comes following a report last week that only 13 of the 32 NFL teams had reached the 85% vaccination threshold that would loosen restrictions as training camp begins.
With these new measure in place, there is a clear incentive for individuals to get vaccinated.
Last year, the NFL was forced to reschedule several games due to COVID outbreaks. The Pittsburgh Steelers-Baltimore Ravens Thanksgiving night game was rescheduled three times before the two teams finally met.
Clearly, the NFL would like to avoid such situations again and has made one of the strongest incentives of all sports leagues to get its players vaccinated.