The NFL released a statement regarding new implications revolving around COVID-19. “We do not anticipate adding a ’19th week’ to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled within the current 18 weeks of the regular season.” In other words, either play on time or don’t play.
The NFL just informed clubs that if a game cannot be rescheduled during the 18-week season in 2021 due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak will FORFEIT and be credited with a loss for playoff seeding, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 22, 2021
NFL players, like DeAndre Hopkins, immediately took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with this new rule.
DeAndre Hopkins deleted a tweet “questioning [his] future” in the NFL after the league announced any team with a COVID outbreak due to unvaccinated players could result in a forfeit pic.twitter.com/PsOeCWQy4u— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 22, 2021
The NFLPA Fucking sucks— Matthew Judon (@man_dammn) July 22, 2021
The @NFL is dead ass wrong w/ that new memo they sent out to teams today. What’s new tho!? Basically forcing these needles into players arms at this point. Every player/personnel should have an ACTUAL “choice” in the matter. They are sending a CLEAR message today.— Darius Butler (@DariusJButler) July 22, 2021
The NFL had already made it known that unvaccinated players would face harsher restrictions than their vaccinated counterparts. But with this new rule in place, a COVID outbreak could potentially force their team to forfeit a game. For most clubs, this shouldn’t be an issue since “80 percent of NFL players have had at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine,” according to PFT. But for a team with Super Bowl aspirations like the Bills, this could throw a wrench into their plans.
A Ticking Time Bomb?
To say that Bill’s players have been vocal about the COVID-19 vaccine is putting it lightly. Cole Beasley, Josh Allen, and Bills veteran Jerry Hughes have all shared their opinions on getting vaccinated.
Earlier this morning, Jerry Hughes and Cole Beasley had a brief Twitter exchange regarding the matter.
Jerry so if a vaccinated player gives an unvaccinated player with underlying conditions covid it’s cool though? And the player with underlying conditions gets blamed for it. From minority to the majority now the minorities don’t matter? https://t.co/sJC1ec0DC1— Cole Beasley (@Bease11) July 23, 2021
Hughes summed up the matter in the end by saying, “…at the end of the day rules are rules.”
If there’s any team that can’t afford to have distractions or setbacks, it’s the Buffalo Bills. Coming off a dominant 13-3 season with an AFC Championship game birth, they need all their players to be on the same page. Something that, at the moment, they don’t all appear to be on. However, the Bills have been known for being a tight-knit team. If there’s any squad that can overcome their differences, the Bills are a good candidate.
If a COVID outbreak were to derail the Bills season, however, we may witness a literal implosion. One that I’m sure will soon leak onto a Twitter timeline near you.
No Vaccine? No Job
Vikings offensive line coach/run game coordinator Rick Dennison has parted ways with the Vikings after refusing to get vaccinated.
#Vikings OL coach/run game coordinator Rick Dennison is leaving the team after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, per @CourtneyRCronin. He has held the position the last 2 years. Phil Rauscher has been promoted from assistant offensive line coach to fill Dennison’s position— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) July 23, 2021
It’s fair to assume that Dennison won’t be the only one changing jobs before the 2021 NFL season begins.
Fair or not, these are the rules that the NFL has put in place. Having said that, it is within the rights of players and coaches to not get vaccinated. They know the risks and implications that come along with that decision, so whatever the fallout is, they’ll have to accept it.