Wednesday, July 28, 2021

NFL warns teams could lose games if Covid outbreaks occur among unvaccinated players

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General view of the NFL shield logo on the field prior to Super Bowl LV between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium.

Kim Klement | USA TODAY Sports | Reuters

The National Football League plans to operate as normally as possible during the upcoming 2021 season and told teams that they would lose games and lose money if Covid outbreaks occurred due to unvaccinated players.

In a memo obtained by CNBC, the NFL informed the team’s executives and head coaches that it does not plan to reschedule games as it did during the 2020 season due to the outbreaks. Instead, the league wrote: “Postponements will only occur if required by government authorities, medical experts, or the [NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s] discretion “.

The NFL notes that most of its teams have vaccinated 100 percent of their senior staff and have established protocols for staff who are not vaccinated. In addition, the league said that more than 75 percent of “players are in the process of being vaccinated and more than half of clubs have vaccination rates higher than 80 percent of their players.”

If games are moved or canceled due to unvaccinated people, teams and players could face financial penalties as well.

For players, the money guaranteed in the contracts may no longer be guaranteed and they could be fined with language detrimental to conduct. The NFL players union has warned its constituents of the league’s stance on postponing games, urging unvaccinated players to seek the vaccine and avoid contract problems through harmful conduct.

On the team front, “the club experiencing the outbreak will be responsible for all additional expenses incurred by the opposing team and will also have to pay any shortfall between the actual and expected payment to the VTS (visiting team share) pool.” Additionally, clubs that suffer losses will have losses attached to their record, threatening postseason chances.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) backs up to pass against the run of Baltimore Ravens linebacker LJ Fort (58) during the Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Baltimore Ravens on November 1, 2020 at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD.

Mark Goldman | Icon Sportswire | fake images

“In light of the substantial roster flexibility for the 2021 season, without medical considerations or government directives, games will not be postponed or rescheduled simply to avoid roster issues caused by multi-player injuries or illnesses,” even within a position group “. the memo said.

The league’s tough stance on postponing games will also protect network partners who just agreed to a deal with the media worth more than $ 100 billion.

The NFL rescheduled several games last season due to Covid outbreaks, including the Week 12 contest between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. That game was initially set for Thanksgiving, but was postponed three times. It was finally played on December 2. 2 and drew 10.8 million viewers on NBC. The 2019 Thanksgiving Day game on the web attracted approximately 21 million viewers.

Advertising metrics data firm EDO estimated that advertisers lost value in the Ravens-Steelers game. The 2019 NFL Thanksgiving night game generated $ 62.8 million for NBC, according to EDO. And data analytics firm Simulmedia said the 2020 contest would have been worth $ 70 million.

NFL training camps open this month in preparation for the 2021 season. The Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will begin the year on September 9.

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