With vaccinations widely available, the NFL will not be as forgiving to teams who suffer COVID-19 outbreaks among unvaccinated players this year, it said in a memo on Thursday.
The league does not plan to add a 19th week to the schedule to accommodate such a situation, instead giving the team with the unvaccinated outbreak a loss for the purposes of playoff seeding if a game must be canceled.
Additionally, players on both sides will not receive their weekly salary if a game is not played, and the team with the unvaccinated outbreak will cover the financial losses and be subject to discipline. There is not a similar penalty if there is an outbreak among vaccinated players.
It is a hard-line stance that was not present a year ago, when the NFL commonly rescheduled games when teams were greatly affected by positive COVID cases.
Players and coaches have been encouraged to get vaccinated, and while there is no mandate in place, the memo clearly lays out the stiff penalties that may be incurred should an outbreak among unvaccinated members occur.
According to the NFL, more than 75 percent of players are either vaccinated or in the process of becoming fully vaccinated.
The Cardinals have not publicly shared their percentage, although coach Kliff Kingsbury said the players have been “overly-educated” about the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Cardinals owner checks out the COVID-19 vaccine setup at State Farm Stadium on Wednesday.