League says it plans to play all 272 games in regular 18-week season
“As we learned last year, we can play a full season if we maintain a firm commitment to adhering to our health and safety protocols and to making needed adjustments in response to changing conditions,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a memo sent to clubs.
And he added: “If a game can’t be rescheduled and is canceled due to a Covid outbreak among non-vaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the team with the outbreak will forfeit and will be deemed to have played 16 games for purposes of draft, waiver priority, etc.”
The NFL says that more than half of its 32 teams have more than 80 per cent of their playing staff vaccinated, and more than 75 per cent of players are in the process of being vaccinated.
The league also says that nearly all teams have vaccinated 100 per cent of their Tier 1 and Tier 2 personeel, which is made up of the coaching and training staffs.
Last season the league rescheduled a string of games to complete the season and did not have to fully cancel any of the schedule.
And this year says that it intends to play its 272-game schedule in a normal fashion.
The NFL has said it will not mandate vaccinations but the new rules and penalties are its strongest action to date to encourage teams to ensure that their players and coaches get their jabs.
The regular season is scheduled to start on 9 September with Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl LV champion Tampa Bay hosting Dallas in the NFL Kickoff Game and end on January 9, 2022.
The Super Bowl will be held on 13 February in Los Angeles, Kalifornië.