The National Football League has informed its 32 franchises that COVID-19 outbreaks among unvaccinated players could result in forfeit losses.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports the league sent a memo to clubs saying it won't reschedule games during the new 18-week schedule due to a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players and teams will instead be credited with a loss via forfeit, according to "sources informed of the situation."
Additionally, players on both teams will not receive their gameday pay for the lost matchup, and the team responsible for the cancellation will cover financial losses, as well as be subject to possible discipline from Commissioner Roger Goodell's office.
In 2020, the NFL rescheduled numerous games due to COVID-19 outbreaks, but zero were cancelled during the 17-week schedule.
This year, the league plans to extend its schedule to a total of 272 games in an 18-week span.
"We do not anticipate adding a '19th week' to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled within the current 18 weeks of the regular season," the memo stated in a highlighted portion via NFL.com.
The memo is the NFL's strongest effort in pressuring owners, teams and coaches to get vaccinated since the vaccine rollout, though it has insisted it would not mandate vaccinations previously.
"If a game is cancelled/postponed because a club cannot play due to a Covid spike among or resulting from its non-vaccinated players/staff, then the burden of the cancellation or delay will fall on the club experiencing the Covid infection," the memo states via NFL.com. "We will seek to minimize the burden on the opposing club or clubs. If a club cannot play due to a Covid spike in vaccinated individuals, we will attempt to minimize the competitive and economic burden on both participating teams."
NFL Network's Judy Battista reports that progress has been made in relation to vaccine totals since players reported to camps, with more than 78% of NFL players having received at least one shot and 14 of the 32 teams having at least 85% of their roster fully vaccinated.
Additionally, Pelissero reports all 32 teams have at least a 50% vaccination rate among their active roster.