NFL Hands Tough Penalties to Unvaccinated, Concussive Teams


During the off-season, the NFL strongly encouraged vaccination, rather than requiring its players and other team personnel to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

That approach has changed, with boot camps kicking off in earnest next week and the regular season kicking off less than two months later.

Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all 32 teams on Thursday, outlining the Covid-19 guidelines for the 2021 season and detailing severe penalties, including forfeiture of games, for teams with unvaccinated staff. Any forfeit could result in non-payment to players if infections are known to cause an epidemic.

The NFL hopes to complete its regular season and playoff roster within the scheduled time frame and will only postpone competitions under government or medical orders.

The note stated that if an unvaccinated player or staff member is shown to have caused an outbreak that resulted in a schedule change, the team that experienced the outbreak would be held financially responsible for the other club’s expenses. If the match cannot be postponed, the team that experienced the epidemic will be forfeited.

For playoff seeding purposes, that team will be credited with a loss and the other with a win. Should an outbreak occur in a “breakthrough” infection among vaccinated individuals, the NFL will seek to minimize competition and financial disruption for both teams. Dawn Aponte, the league’s chief football executive, said the terms of the memo were agreed with the NFL Players Association.

The NFLPA did not respond to a request for comment.

While the grade doesn’t mandate vaccination, it represents the NFL’s strongest stance ever during the coronavirus pandemic and shows how seriously it takes avoiding the hurdles of 2020. The new directives highlight the ongoing question. employers should require workers to be vaccinated Draw a hard line between vaccinated team personnel and colleagues who are reluctant or unwilling to be vaccinated.

Minnesota Vikings assistant coach Rick Dennison was fired on Friday for refusing to be vaccinated. ESPN reported. The team explained that it continues to discuss the matter with Dennison and that the league does not qualify for exemption from coronavirus protocols. New England Patriots assistant coach Cole Popovich also left his team due to virus guidelines. According to ESPN.

In June, the NFL said unvaccinated team personnel would lose access to Tier 1 staff members who were effectively banned from the field, boardrooms, and direct interaction with players.

Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said in a conference call with reporters that 80 percent of all players received at least one dose of the vaccine on Friday. Other sports leagues have reported high numbers of vaccines. The WNBA said in June that 99 percent of its players had been vaccinated, while the NBA reported 90 percent. More than two-thirds of Major League Baseball teams reported an 85 percent vaccination rate.

But there are still big differences in vaccination rates between NFL teams; Nine teams report over 90 percent of their players, while five teams have rates below 70 percent.

Goodell’s memo received support from the White House.

“We definitely believe the biggest takeaway is getting vaccinated is our ticket back to normal,” President Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, told a news conference Friday. Said. But some notable NFL players opposed vaccination instructions after the league’s ordinance.

“I never thought I’d say this, but being put in a position to hurt my team because I didn’t want to be involved in the vaccine makes me question my future at @Nfl,” said Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. a Twitter post that has since been deleted.

In another Twitter post, which was later deleted by its author, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who fled Leonard Fournette, wrote, “I can’t get vaccinated……”.

In the off-season, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley was perhaps the league’s loudest vaccine challenger. He is constantly Messages posted on Twitter He voiced his resistance and on Friday argued with a vaccine-supporting teammate, defensive end Jerry Hughes.

Despite outbreaks at team facilities last season, a series of program changesThe league wrapped up its season between scheduled start and end dates. Aponte said the NFL is expanding roster sizes to account for players needing quarantine, and these rules will remain unchanged in 2021.

“I think the biggest difference between last year and this year is that there is a vaccine available that still has staff flexibility in place,” he said. “I think our goal of playing all 272 games in an 18-week season is both possible and remains our focus.”

In April, as Covid-19 vaccines became widely available, the NFL said that all coaches and support personnel without medical or religious grounds must be vaccinated or they would be restricted from interacting closely with players. As infection rates in the country decline, the NFL and the NFL Players Association have relaxed enforcement of virus-related protocols, such as masking and physical distancing measures for vaccinated individuals.

Unvaccinated players still face various restrictions, including daily testing, capacity limitations in weight rooms, and the requirement to travel on a separate plane.

While the numbers lag behind last spring and winter pandemic spikes, hospitalizations and new daily infections have increased in recent weeks with the emergence of the Delta variant. Sills said the high vaccination rates in the league gave him confidence that most players choose to get vaccinated.

“I think this reflects that they thought about this very carefully and thought about both the risks and benefits, and decided that in these cases, the benefits for themselves would motivate them to choose to start vaccinating,” Sills said.


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