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NFL targeting unvaccinated players, their teams: League memo says COVID-19 outbreaks among unvaccinated may mean players not getting paid, forfeits

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The National Football League is bringing the hammer down with gusto on unvaccinated players and their teams.

What are the details?

The league on Thursday issued a memo stating that if a team experiences a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players and a game can't be rescheduled within the 18-week season, the team with the outbreak among unvaccinated players will forfeit the game, NBC Sports reported.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero posted about the memo on Twitter, noting that it said the league doesn't anticipate "adding a '19th week' to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled within the current 18 weeks of the regular season."

And of major importance to the players themselves, the memo also said if such a game is forfeited, none of the players from either team will get paid, NBC Sports added.

"Every club is obligated under the Constitution and Bylaws to have its team ready to play at the scheduled time and place," Commissioner Roger Goodell said in the memo, according to NBC Sports. "A failure to do so is deemed conduct detrimental. There is no right to postpone a game."

More from the outlet:

In addition to the threat of forfeiture, the memo also states that a club with an unvaccinated outbreak that forces a rescheduled game will be "responsible for all additional expenses incurred but the opposing team and will also be required to pay any shortfall between actual and expected payment to the VTS pool."

What if vaccinated players test positive for COVID?

Oh, it's an entirely different story if vaccinated players test positive for COVID-19, as breakthrough cases have been on the rise and have been acknowledged by the powers that be as a distinct post-jab possibility.

NBC Sports noted that if vaccinated players test positive and are asymptomatic, they can return to their teams "after two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. And those who are vaccinated will not be forced to quarantine after close contact with someone who tests positive."

Pelissero wrote that this is "the NFL's strongest step yet to incentivize vaccinations. In essence, vaccination status dictates action." With that, he noted another tidbit from the memo: "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."

On the contrary, players who are unvaccinated and test positive "will be isolated for 10 days and will be able to return once they're asymptomatic," NBC Sports said, adding that if unvaccinated players come in contact with "with someone who tests positive, they must be quarantined for five days."

Anything else?

The NFL and the players association last month agreed to new COVID-19 protocols, which — like Thursday's memo — are far more heavy handed with unvaccinated players than those who are fully vaccinated. The protocols say, for instance, that unvaccinated players will face daily COVID-19 tests, must wear masks in team facilities and during travel, and are barred from leaving hotels to eat at restaurants. In addition, first violations of the protocols can result in a $50,000 fine.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley reacted harshly to the protocols, saying he's prepared to walk away from the NFL as a result of them.

"My values are more important to me than a dollar," he said.

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