The United States is once again under siege from the Delta variant; businesses and organizations are reassessing policies to combat further spread of the disease that has kept most of the world hostage for nearly two years. Professional sports leagues are no exception. On Aug. 18, 2021, the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons proudly announced it is the first NFL team to have 100 percent vaccination compliance; they happily added masks are no longer required at the facility and can eat and work out together without concern.
During the 2019-2020 season, 13 franchises did not host fans. But this season, fans are excited as each of the 32 teams’ stadiums was authorized for full capacity. The NFL set strict COVID-19 rules short of mandating vaccinations that outline the penalties for a team canceling a game due to an outbreak to keep the season running smoothly.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s mid-July memo advised the clubs that if a game is canceled by an unvaccinated team due to a COVID-19 outbreak, it must be rescheduled during the 18-week season, or it will be forfeited. Another consequence affects the NFL playoff seeding; the canceled game will count as a loss.
Moreover, the unvaccinated team will be responsible for financial losses, possibly subjected to discipline, and the franchise will not be paid for the forfeit game.
It appears the NFL commissioner’s edict against unvaccinated teams further highlights the freedoms earned by committing to join the ranks of the vaccinated — money and accurate playoff standing.
Georgia holds 44th place in vaccination, ranking among 50 states and the nation’s capital. As of August 18, 4,218,980 eligible individuals were fully vaccinated against COVID-19; nearly 40 percent. Google reports, in the past 30 days, three percent of those over 12 chose to protect themselves and their neighbors.
Now, they can safely attend NFL games in person. Another freedom, perhaps the greatest, is knowing that if they are infected with one of the variants, they will survive the illness without needing hospitalization or critical medical intervention, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
HuffPost: Atlanta Falcons First NFL Team To Have 100% Of Players Vaccinated
NBC News: NFL sends strong message to teams and players: Get the vaccine; by Dave Zangaro
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Erik Drost’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Sgt. Shye Stallings Courtesy of Georgia National Guard’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License