Ieri la NFL ha inviato un memo alle squadre che con toni molto perentori dispone che in caso di partite sospese per casi di positività al Covid tra giocatori non vaccinati queste non saranno riprogrammate, la squadra responsabile avrà partita persa e (ovviamente) i giocatori delle due squadre non riceveranno lo stipendio settimanale.
Andiamo con ordine.
A inizio luglio la NFL ha stipulato un accordo con la NFLPA per instaurare un protocollo COVID da seguire per squadre e giocatori per ridurre al minimo il rischio di avere del personale positivo. Questo protocollo impone forti limitazioni a giocatori e staff che non si vaccinano invogliando quindi alla inoculazione tutti quelli che ancora erano restii. Con l’inizio dei traing camp, e quindi con il controllo di tutti i giocatori, sono cominciate a girare delle cifre abbastanza lusinghiere sul numero di vaccinati.
With players starting to report for training camps, there's progress on vaccines. More than 78 percent of players league-wide have at least one vaccine, and 14 teams have at least 85 percent of players vaccinated.
— Judy Battista (@judybattista) July 22, 2021
Il 78% dei giocatori con almeno una dose di vaccino in corpo e 14 squadre su 32 con almeno l’85% dei giocatori vaccinati sembrano essere numeri confortanti, ma non per la NFL che ieri ha deciso di intervenire a gamba tesa con un memorandum inviato alle squadre (che potete leggere integralmente a fine articolo) molto perentorio nei rischi che possono correre nel caso ci sia un focolaio di giocatori positivi durante la stagione regolare.
La lega informa le squadre che se dovesse saltare una partita di regular season per un focolaio COVID dovuto a giocatori non vaccinati e non fosse possibile recuperarla la squadra responsabile perderà la partita a tavolino, dovrà rimborsare le spese sostenute dall’altra squadra e i giocatori non riceveranno lo stipendio settimanale. Nel caso di recupero dell’incontro tutte le spese sostenute saranno comunque a carico del team con il focolaio COVID.
La NFL ha inoltre scritto che non intende pensare ad una 19° settimana dedicata ai recuperi e quindi ogni partita che salta e non sarà possibile recuperare porterà alla sconfitta della squadra che ha il focolaio al suo interno.
La differenza principale è che se il focolaio vede protagonisti giocatori non vaccinati oltre alla sconfitta a tavolino ci saranno sanzioni per la squadra che avranno effetto sul waiver wire, sulle scelte al Draft e quant’altro il Commissioner avrà in testa, mentre nel caso di focolaio originato da giocatori vaccinati ci sarà esclusivamente la sconfitta, sempre in caso di mancato recupero.
Il resto delle norme, giorni di quarantena, rientro, ecc… ecc… sono simili a quelle dell’anno scorso con una maggiore flessibilità nel caso che il contagiato sia vaccinato o meno.
Chiaro il tentativo della NFL di aumentare al massimo la percentuale di giocatori vaccinati portandola il più vicino possibile al 100% e quindi, anche in caso di positività, riuscire a limitare i danni, tutto questo senza imporre la vaccinazione come fondamentale per poter giocare. Diverso il discorso per lo staff perché le norme esistenti impongono la vaccinazione obbligatoria ai membri che hanno contatti con i giocatori altrimenti non possono neanche entrare nelle facilities.
Qualche giocatore non ha preso bene queste nuove disposizioni della NFL, ma per quanto letto niente di numeroso. DeAndre Hopkins aveva scritto un tweet molto critico sul provvedimento per poi cancellarlo qualche ora dopo.
La NFLPA ha inviato una email ai giocatori ribadendo che per loro nulla cambia rispetto all’anno scorso, l’unica differenza è la presenza di sanzioni per le squadre che non erano invece presenti nel 2020.
Testo integrale del memo NFL
This will summarize key operating principles relating to addressing the continuing Covid-19 threat for the 2021 season. We will review these principles and related matters on the 32-club call this evening. These principles are based on last season’s experience and follow discussions that we have had with a number of league committees, medical experts, outside advisors, and many of you. 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.
These operating principles are designed to allow us to play a full season in a safe and responsible way and address possible competitive or financial issues fairly. While there is no question that health conditions have improved from last year, we cannot be complacent or simply assume that we will be able to play without interruption – either due to Covid outbreaks among our clubs or outbreaks that occur within the larger community. These principles are intended to help inform decisions, recognizing that, as in 2020, we will need to remain flexible and adapt to possibly changing conditions.
- We will maintain our focus on health and safety, with the well-being of everyone associated with our game remaining our highest priority.
- Nearly all clubs have vaccinated 100 percent of their Tier 1 and 2 staffs. Clubs have put appropriate protocols in place for the relatively few staff who have not been vaccinated, consistent with the guidance given last April. As of today, more than 75 percent of players are in the process of being vaccinated, and more than half the clubs have vaccination rates greater than 80 percent of their players.
- We know that vaccines are safe and effective and are the best step anyone can take to be safe from the coronavirus. The vaccines continue to provide strong immunity against variants of the coronavirus, including the Delta variant. Even with recent increases, new cases remain far below the peak levels of earlier this year. Both the CDC and major hospital systems throughout the country have reported that 97 percent or more of the new cases and virtually all hospitalizations are seen in unvaccinated individuals. While there have been “breakthrough” infections – cases where a vaccinated individual has been infected – those cases tend to be mild and people recover from the infection relatively quickly.
- 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.
- Persons who had a previous Covid infection will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after they have had at least one dose of an approved vaccine.
- We will remain in close contact with medical and public health authorities at all levels of government, as well as with our own medical advisors and the NFLPA, and will communicate any changes in medical or public health advice promptly.
- The league will make every reasonable effort, consistent with underlying health and safety principles, to complete the full 272-game regular season within the current 18 weeks and all postseason games as scheduled, in a safe and responsible way. This is grounded in a commitment to players, coaches, fans, and business partners.We do not anticipate adding a “19th week” to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled within the current 18 weeks of the regular season.
- Every club is obligated under the Constitution and Bylaws to have its team ready to play at the scheduled time and place. A failure to do so is deemed conduct detrimental. There is no right to postpone a game. Postponements will only occur if required by government authorities, medical experts, or at the Commissioner’s discretion.
- In light of the substantial roster flexibility in place for the 2021 season, absent medical considerations or government directives, games will not be postponed or rescheduled simply to avoid roster issues caused by injury or illness affecting multiple players, even within a position group.
- If a game is cancelled/postponed because a club cannot play due to a Covid spike among or resulting from its non-vaccinated players/staff, then the burden of the cancellation or delay will fall on the club experiencing the Covid infection. We will seek to minimize the burden on the opposing club or clubs. If a club cannot play due to a Covid spike in vaccinated individuals, we will attempt to minimize the competitive and economic burden on both participating teams.
- Whether to reschedule a postponed game will be dependent on health and safety reasons at the recommendation of medical experts as well as considerations of stadium availability, schedule integrity, fan convenience, and other appropriate matters.
- If a game cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule and is cancelled due to a Covid outbreak among non-vaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the club with the outbreak will forfeit the contest and will be deemed to have played 16 games for purposes of draft, waiver priority, etc. For the purposes of playoff seeding, the forfeiting team will be credited with a loss and the other team will be credited with a win.
- 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 actual and expected payment to the VTS pool.
- If a game cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule and is cancelled due to a Covid outbreak among unvaccinated players on one of the competing teams, that club will forfeit the contest and will be responsible for the lost payment to the VTS pool.
- If a game is cancelled and cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule due to a Covid outbreak, neither team’s players will receive their weekly paragraph 5 salary.
If a game is cancelled because of a Covid outbreak among unvaccinated players/staff, in addition to the financial penalties identified above, the Commissioner retains the authority to impose additional sanctions, particularly if the Covid outbreak is reasonably determined to be the result of a failure by club personnel to follow applicable protocols.
- Costs of testing players and staff for Covid-19 during the 2021 season will be paid for as follows: the first $400,000 of each club’s actual testing costs will be treated as a league expense. Each club will pay its own actual testing costs as they are incurred and will then be reimbursed after the season for up to $400,000 in actual testing costs. All testing costs in excess of $400,000 will be the responsibility of the club. Eligibility for this reimbursement will depend on full compliance with all Covid-19 related testing protocols in effect for the 2021 season. Any material deviation may result in a club being ineligible for reimbursement, in addition to any other consequences.