NFL: Teams With COVID-19 Outbreaks Among Unvaccinated Players Could Forfeit Games

The league is taking a major step to incentivize players to get vaccinated as coronavirus cases rise nationwide.

The NFL told its teams that if they have COVID-19 outbreaks among unvaccinated players and a game can’t be rescheduled, the team will forfeit and take a loss. 

If a game is canceled due to a virus outbreak, players on both teams would not receive their weekly salary and the club with the outbreak would be responsible for any financial losses incurred by the opposing team, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a letter Thursday. Teams with outbreaks could also face additional sanctions, first reported the NFL Network

Vaccines are safe and effective and are the best step anyone can take to be safe from the coronavirus,” Goodell wrote in the memo to clubs. 

The 2021 football season is set to begin in September. 

So far, over 75% of NFL players are in the process of getting vaccinated, according to the memo, and nearly all clubs have all of their staff vaccinated. 

As the highly contagious delta variant spreads nationwide, the U.S. has gone from an average of nearly 11,500 daily cases on June 20 to a seven-day average of over 37,000 new cases on July 20 — meaning COVID-19 cases more than tripled in the span of a month.

Vaccinated people remain at low risk of contracting the virus — even the delta variant — and are at extremely low risk of hospitalization or death if they are infected in a “breakthrough” case. However, coronavirus cases are growing dramatically among unvaccinated populations.