The NFL has announced that it will not extend the season if a COVID-19 outbreak emerges amongst unvaccinated players.
As the 2021 season approaches, the National Football League is resorting to drastic measures to push COVID-19 vaccines.
According to an NFL-released memo obtained by Tom Pelissero, the league has no plans to extend its seasons if there is a COVID-19 outbreak amongst unvaccinated players. If an affected game cannot be made up in its respective week, the team in question will be forced to forfeit.
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
Last season, the league was able to successfully stage all 256 regular season games, as well as the expanded postseason. A total of 18 contests were adjusted due to outbreaks. Two of those games involved the New York Jets, who saw their showdowns with the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers switch dates.
This course of action from the NFL is their strongest endorsement of vaccinations, which have been a major talking point amongst players during the relative doldrums of July. Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin recently ripped his Dallas Cowboys for not reaching the 85 percent vaccinated status that 14 other squads have attained.
“It should upset them. Dude, you’re not thinking right,” Irvin said, per Todd Archer of ESPN. “You’re not thinking right. Whatever you got, I don’t give a damn. Nothing else can be more important.”
Former Cowboy and current Buffalo Bill Cole Beasley, who has been a vocal voice against mandatory vaccinations, took issue with Irvin’s words.
“You can be vaccinated and not do all the right things football-wise to be at your best,” Beasley said on Twitter. “All it means is players are gonna be out there with covid and we won’t know cause they only get tested once a week so the NFL can make their money.”
The preference toward those vaccinated continues in the sense that unvaccinated positive testers are subject to a 10-day isolation period while asymptomatic.
“We know that vaccines are safe and effective and are the best step anyone can take to be safe from the coronavirus,” the memo reads to justify the expanded benefits. “The vaccines continue to provide strong immunity against variants of the coronavirus…Both the CDC and major hospital systems throughout the country have reported that 97 percent or more of the new cases and virtually all hospitalizations are seen in unvaccinated individuals.”
Not all players appear to be on board with the new regulations. Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins said in a since-deleted tweet that he was “questioning (his) future” in the league since the news was announced.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags