NFL teams face potential forfeits for COVID-19 outbreaks

Sports

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Tyus Bowser, back, makes a hit on Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow as he tries a pass during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The NFL has informed teams they could potentially forfeit a game due to a COVID-19 outbreak among non-vaccinated players, and players on both teams wouldn’t get paid that week.

“As we learned last year, we can play a full season if we maintain a firm commitment to adhering to our health and safety protocols and to making needed adjustments in response to changing conditions,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday in a memo sent to clubs that was obtained by The Associated Press.

Goodell says the league doesn’t not anticipate adding a 19th week to accommodate games that can’t be rescheduled within 18-week regular season.

However, forfeits are among the consequences.

“If a game can’t be rescheduled and is canceled due to a COVID outbreak among non-vaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the team with the outbreak will forfeit and will be deemed to have played 16 games for purposes of draft, waiver priority, etc,” Goodell says in the memo.

For purposes of playoff seeding, the forfeiting team will be credited with a loss and the other team will be credited with a win.

The league says more than half its teams have COVID-19 vaccination rates greater than 80% of their players, and more than 75% of players are in the process of being vaccinated.

Nearly all clubs have vaccinated 100% of their Tier 1 and 2 staffs. Teams have appropriate protocols set up for staffers who have not been vaccinated, consistent with the guidance given last April.

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