The NFL has made it abundantly clear that they aren’t messing around with COVID this year, which is really bad news for Cole Beasley and the Buffalo Bills.
There are multiple important takeaways from the memo that was sent out Thursday to all 32 NFL teams, with strong tones that the league is taking the potential impact of unvaccinated players very seriously. According to the memo:
If a game is cancelled/postponed because a club cannot play due to a Covid spike among or resulting from its non-vaccinated players/staff, then the burden of the cancellation or delay will fall on the club experiencing the Covid infection. We will seek to minimize the burden on opposing club or clubs. 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.
The league is saying that they will help and support teams that are vaccinated more than teams that are not, basically telling them that if they have to miss a game because of an outbreak amongst unvaccinated individuals, that they’re screwed financially and from a competitive standpoint.
The memo continues:
If a game cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule and is cancelled due to a Covid outbreak among non-vaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the club with the outbreak will forfeit the contest and will be deemed to have played 16 games for purposes of draft, waiver priority, etc. For the purposes of playoff seeding, the forfeiting team will be credited with a loss and the other team will be credited with a win.
There will be no extra week at the end of the season to make up missed games. The league is telling its teams that if you don’t want to be credited with a loss, get vaccinated.
Here’s the biggest penalty:
If a game is cancelled and cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule due to a Covid outbreak, neither team’s players will receive their weekly paragraph 5 salary.
You don’t play, you don’t get paid.
What this memo also illustrates is that this has nothing to do with thresholds, such as the 85% number that allows teams to have added flexibilities. If an individual is unvaccinated and causes an outbreak, the team will suffer. Yes, Beasley, the league is looking at you. It’s your right to do what you want, but it’s also the league’s right to protect the competitive balance and the safety of your teammates and coaches, as well as the members of your opposing teams.
The NFL is taking an incredibly strong stance on this issue. Not being vaccinated could cost players, and teams, paychecks and games in the standings. At this point, it is strictly and wildly selfish for a player to remain unvaccinated.