New England Patriots

NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 09: The NFL shield logo on the goal post pad at Louisiana Superdome on September 9, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Last season, the NFL schedule became a wild mess as games were rescheduled due to COVID. This year, the league is putting its foot down and making sure that won’t happen again.

According to a memo sent out to NFL teams on Thursday, outbreaks caused by unvaccinated players and/or staff could carry stiff punishments. For example, if a game cannot be played due to an outbreak, and it’s not possible to reschedule, the team with the outbreak will forfeit the game and be charged with a loss in the standings. They may also be financially responsible for money lost due to the game not being played.

On top of that, players from both teams may not be paid their weekly salary if a game cannot be made up. The league they “do not anticipate adding a 19th week to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled within the current 18 weeks of the regular season,” an idea that was floated at times last year.

While most of these potential penalties apply to teams with outbreaks stemming from unvaccinated individuals, vaccinated individuals and teams will have more leeway. 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.” However, it goes on to say that “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.”

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at