The NFL reportedly informed teams on Thursday via a league issued memo that if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs on a team among its unvaccinated players, then that team will forfeit that particular game (counting as a loss in the season standings), and no players will get paid that week—from either scheduled team for that matter:
So to recap, if an outbreak of unvaccinated NFL players causes a game to be canceled:— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 22, 2021
- Infected team forfeits, takes a loss for playoff seeding, faces financial penalties and possible additional sanctions if protocols violated
- Players on both teams don't get paid
Here’s the full memo the NFL sent to teams today on COVID-19 protocols, and punishments for outbreaks among unvaccinated personnel. pic.twitter.com/0vFw197022— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 22, 2021
It’s highly relevant for the Colts, who are still apparently among the league’s least vaccinated teams—although franchise owner Jim Irsay stated on Thursday that they’ve now successfully eclipsed the 50% threshold for team vaccination rate recently.
While players still have the right to choose in theory, the NFL made an emphatic statement on Thursday: get vaccinated OR potentially hurt your team and your wallet.
Call it an epiphany or not, but it might suddenly become an easier decision—at least for some NFL players.
For what it’s worth, Irsay was adamant about his franchise’s players getting vaccinated too:
This was a particularly notable portion of Colts owner Jim Irsay's comments today on his team's vaccination rates. This is at the core of the hesitancy among players in my opinion. pic.twitter.com/uBjxVyKyLr— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) July 22, 2021
Till will tell whether this league mandate spurns more Colts players to get the vaccine in the coming weeks—because the stakes just got a whole lot higher for an unvaccinated outbreak—especially in a league where a win or loss can be the difference between making or missing the playoffs, winning a division title, and/or hosting an additional playoff game.
It could also be the difference between a ‘bubble player’ earning or losing a spot on the Colts active roster—if it’s otherwise a very close competition against a vaccinated player.
With the reputable science and medical data already pointing one way—and these latest revealed football repercussions, it’ll be interesting to see how much of a difference this makes league-wide (and of course, for the Colts).