NFL will fine unvaccinated players over $14K for violating COVID-19 protocols
The National Football League will fine any unvaccinated players $14,650 if they violate COVID-19 preventative health measures, according to training camp and preseason protocol documents sent out to teams in June.
Some of the violations that could warrant the hefty fine include gathering outside a club facility or traveling in groups of more than three players, engaging in in-person meetings, practices and/or training outside of club facilities with other players and attending indoor nightclubs or bars without PPE and if there are more than 10 people present.
The league clarified that a bar "does not include an establishment that offers food service and which a player attends primarily for food service even if the establishment also includes full-service bar."
Unvaccinated players can also get fined for gathering inside a home with more than 15 people and social distancing is not possible or attending an indoor music or entertainment event. They can also be fined for not wearing PPE, properly social distancing or refusing to wear a Kinexon Proximity Recording tracking device.
FILE - A view of Levi's Stadium on the opening day of a mass COVID-19 vaccination site on Feb. 09, 2021 in Santa Clara, California.
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Players are required to wear a tracking device during practice, at clubs, or while traveling with the team in order to determine close contact exposure, according to the NFL.
The league also noted that heavier fines of $50,000 can be imposed on any unvaccinated players who refuse to submit to a COVID-19 test or if any number of players or members of the Club’s Tiered staff gather at any time when the club is shut down amid the pandemic.
In a further attempt to encourage vaccines among its players, the NFL sent out a memo on July 22 that said teams could potentially forfeit a game due to a COVID-19 outbreak amongst unvaccinated players.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said in the memo, obtained by The Associated Press, that the league does not intend to add another week to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled due to an outbreak.
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"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," he said.
"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."
In addition to forfeiting, if a game can’t be made up in the 18-week schedule, players on both teams will not be paid for the game.
The NFL has not made vaccinations mandatory. The league and the NFL Players Association, however, are strongly urging team employees and players to do so.
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Last year, in the height of the pandemic, the NFL completed its season, the playoffs and Super Bowl on time. But it had contingency plans for an 18th week to play makeup games if needed. There were several postponements but no cancellations.
For 2021, the regular season has been expanded to 17 games.
The league says more than half its teams currently have COVID-19 vaccination rates greater than 80% of their players, and more than 75% of players are in the process of being vaccinated. All training camps will be open by the end of this week.
The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this report.