As the start of the 2021-22 NFL season nears closer, the league has released a new set of rules in order to keep players and staff safe from coronavirus, guidelines that could absolutely derail the Buffalo Bills’ season.
The NFL “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,” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted on July 22.
The official memo states, per Pelissero, that “for the purpose of playoff seeding, the forfeiting team will be credited with a loss and the other team will be credited with a win.”
Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen and safety Jordan Poyer have expressed disinterest in getting the vaccine, and veteran wide receiver Cole Beasley tweeted on June 18 that he’d “rather die” than get vaccinated.
Allen said back in May, “I know vaccines are going to be a hot topic really throughout the remainder of the season, and we’re having conversations as a team, and I’m going to keep those conversations and choices of myself and my teammates in-house. We’re letting everybody make their own personal decision on this matter.”
However, with these new league rules, Allen might have a change of heart.
Unvaccinated Players & Staff Will Be Financially Responsible for Canceled Games
In addition to downplaying the chances of adding a 19th week to accommodate canceled games, the NFL’s memo went on to state that the team responsible for a canceled game because of an outbreak among unvaccinated players/staff will be responsible for financial losses and subject to potential discipline from the commissioner.
If a game is rescheduled due to a Covid outbreak among unvaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the club experiencing the outbreak will be responsible for all additional expenses incurred by the opposing team and will also be required to pay any shortfall between the actual and expected payment to the VTS pool.
On the flip side, “If a club cannot play due to a Covid spike in vaccinated individuals,” the league will “attempt to minimize the competitive and economic burden on both participating teams.”
The NFL realizes that continuous testing can be costly, and will reimburse up to $400,000 in expenses related to covid tests going forward.
Beasley’s Controversial Vaccine Tweets May Get Him Cut Before Start of Season
Beasley, 32, experienced the most productive campaign of his nine-year NFL career in 2020, posting personal high marks in receptions (82) and receiving yards (967). However, some, including Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, are beginning to wonder whether Beasley is now “trying to goad the Bills into cutting him?”
Another offseason controversy amid the Bills’ influx of slot candidates — including fifth-year gadget man Isaiah McKenzie — could give Buffalo an opening to part ways with Beasley, should they wish to.
On July 19, Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin told ESPN’s Todd Archer that players who refuse to get vaccinated “don’t want to win badly enough.” While Irvin was sending a message to the Dallas Cowboys specifically, Beasley, who spent seven seasons in Dallas from 2012 to 2018, replied to the legend’s statement on Twitter.
The Bills receiver fiercely rallied against the first memo the NFL sent out with new rules regarding vaccinated players back in April, but he’s yet to comment on the most recent rules.