Thursday's NFL: Teams face potential forfeits for COVID-19 outbreaks

By Rob Maaddi
Associated Press

NFL teams have been warned they could forfeit a game due to a COVID-19 outbreak among non-vaccinated players, and players on both teams wouldn’t get paid that week.

“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 Thursday in a memo sent to clubs that was obtained by The Associated Press.

NFL teams have been warned they could forfeit a game due to a COVID-19 outbreak among non-vaccinated players, and players on both teams wouldn’t get paid that week.

Goodell says the league doesn’t not anticipate adding a 19th week to accommodate games that can’t be rescheduled within 18-week regular season.

However, forfeits are among the consequences.

“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,” Goodell says in the memo.

For purposes of playoff seeding, the forfeiting team will be credited with a loss and the other team will be credited with a win.

The league says more than half its teams have COVID-19 vaccination rates greater than 80% of their players, and more than 75% of players are in the process of being vaccinated.

Nearly all clubs have vaccinated 100% of their Tier 1 and 2 staffs. Teams have appropriate protocols set up for staffers who have not been vaccinated, consistent with the guidance given last April.

Among the other key points in the memo:

► If a vaccinated person tests positive and is asymptomatic, he or she will be isolated and contact tracing will promptly occur. The positive individual will be permitted to return to duty after two negative tests at least 24 hours apart, and will thereafter be tested every two weeks or as directed by the medical staffs. Vaccinated individuals will not be subject to quarantine as a result of close contact with an infected person.

► If an unvaccinated person tests positive, the protocols from 2020 will remain in effect. The person will be isolated for a period of 10 days and will then be permitted to return to duty if asymptomatic. Unvaccinated individuals will continue to be subject to a five-day quarantine period if they have close contact with an infected individual.

► Anyone who had a previous COVID-19 infection will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after they have had at least one dose of an approved vaccine.

Extra points

... Running back Saquon Barkley, coming off an ACL injury, is starting training camp for the New York Giants on the active/physically unable to perform list.

Barkley and five other players were placed on the list Thursday as the team’s quarterbacks, first-year players and those rehabbing injuries checked into training camp. They joined a group of rookies who reported Wednesday.

Veterans are scheduled to report on Tuesday, practice starts the following day.

Barkley said on Monday at a youth football camp he was not sure whether the team would allow him to practice right away. He was injured in the second game of last season and had surgery in October.

... New York Jets assistant coach Greg Knapp died Thursday of injuries suffered in a bicycle accident near his home in California last Saturday. He was 58.

Knapp’s family released a statement through the team that the longtime NFL assistant coach died at 2:32 p.m. EDT.

“Greg Knapp (aka Knapper) was called back home to Heaven, where he will be reunited with his Dad,” the statement said.

The family said in the statement that Knapp was struck by a car while riding his bicycle in the city of San Ramon in the San Francisco Bay Area and never regained consciousness.

He was surrounded by his mother, wife, three daughters and his brother when he died.

“Greg’s infectious personality is most people’s first and lasting memory of him,” the family said. “The phrase ‘He never met a stranger’ encapsulates Knapper’s zest for life. He had a unique gift to make everyone feel special, and to Knapper, they all were.

... New Orleans' iconic Superdome may soon bear the Caesars Entertainment name and logo, under a 20-year naming rights deal with the Saints that is nearing completion and won required legislative backing Thursday.

Terms of the contract are still being finalized. But the deal is estimated to be worth about $138 million through 2041, according to information provided to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, the House and Senate panel that approved the naming rights transfer without objection.