The NFL is warning teams that outbreaks of COVID among unvaccinated players could result in game cancellations. The league said it expects all players to get their shots by the start of the season on September 9.
In a new memo, Commissioner Roger Goodell said games would no longer be rescheduled and the teams responsible for the cancellation would suffer a loss on their record and players on both teams would not be paid.
“As we learned last year, we can play a full season if we maintain a firm commitment to upholding our health and safety protocols and making the necessary adjustments in response to changing conditions,” Goodell said in the memo.
“While there is no doubt that health conditions have improved from last year, we cannot be complacent or just assume that we will be able to play without a break – either due to Covid outbreaks in our clubs or outbreaks that occur within the larger community. “
The news comes as most of the NFL teams gear up for training camp this summer. So far, only 75% have received a dose of the vaccine and 14 of the league’s 32 teams have exceeded the required 85% threshold for players vaccinated, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
Arizona Cardinals star DeAndre Hopkins, who has said he will not get the shot, responded to the note on Twitter. In a now deleted tweet, Hopkins said: “I never thought I would say that, but being able to hurt my team because I don’t want to participate in the vaccine makes me question my future in @nfl.”
McCarthy said the vaccine is not mandatory for players, but team personnel who interact with players are required to be vaccinated. “We encouraged fans and all members of the NFL family to get information about the health benefits of the vaccine and to get the vaccine,” he said in a statement. “Almost 100 percent of this staff is vaccinated.”
In oneWith CBS News Thursday, Dr Anthony Fauci applauded the new NFL policy, saying other organizations would likely follow suit.
“I think the NFL is sending a very strong signal that we and others are sending in different ways in different forums is that getting the shot is very important,” Fauci said. “What the NFL says, if you want to play football and you want to do it in an unrestricted way and without worrying about penalties, you just get the shot because they say if unvaccinated people get infected, there are going to be consequences. “