The NFL has taken a hard stance against its unvaccinated players for this upcoming season.
Some of those players are openly unhappy, but one of the country's foremost experts on public health likes what he sees.
In an interview with "CBS Evening News," Dr. Anthony Fauci praised the league for strongly pushing players to get vaccinated by threatening to force teams to forfeit games and lose pay in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players:
"The NFL is sending a very strong signal that it's very important to get vaccinated," he told "CBS Evening News" anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell. "If you want to play football and you want to do it in a way that you feel unrestricted and not worry about any penalties, you just get vaccinated, because they're saying that if unvaccinated people get infected, there are going to be consequences."
The NFL outlined its new policy in a memo to teams on Tuesday. The change represents the harshest action any major American league has taken against unvaccinated players, effectively removing the safety net of potential outbreak postponements and shifting the financial burden of cancellations onto teams and players.
Fauci says other organizations, not just sports leagues, could follow the NFL's example.
"I think that gives them the impetus to do the same sort of thing. And I think you're going to be seeing that there will be local mandates, be they from colleges and universities or places of business that there will be pressures for people to get vaccinated," he said.
NFL: Players don't get paid if unvaccinated outbreak cancels game
In its memo, the NFL made it clear it does not want to postpone and reschedule games due to individual teams' COVID-19 outbreaks, something it had to deal with throughout last year's regular season.
Under the new rules, if a game cannot be rescheduled after a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team responsible for the outbreak will face the following penalties:
the team will forfeit the game, taking a loss for playoff seeding purposes while the other team will be credited a win
the team will be responsible for all additional expenses incurred by the other team
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will have the right to inflict additional punishments, especially if the outbreak is due to failure to follow protocols
players on both teams will not be paid
As you can imagine, that last penalty is something the league's players are not happy to see. If a game is canceled or postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak among vaccinated players, however, the league says it will do what it can to minimize the burden on both teams.
Deandre Hopkins publicly pondered retirement over NFL's vaccine push
Several NFL players were quick to discuss and condemn the league's hardline stance. None were louder than star Arizona Cardinals DeAndre Hopkins, who initially reacted to the news by publicly pondering retirement.
DeAndre Hopkins with a big statement on today’s news… pic.twitter.com/YSt4uG8NUe
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) July 22, 2021
That tweet was quickly deleted, with Hopkins later tweeting he still hopes to play in the league for nine more years and quote tweeting a supportive post from a prominent conservative sports blog.
Others tweeting their displeasure were Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette and New England Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon.
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