Commissioner suggests forfeiture as potential punishment for COVID-19 protocol breaches

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The two-page memo sent Monday by the Commissioner to all teams includes a two-paragraph passage that trots out the nuclear option for the league to ensure compliance with all COVID-19 protocols: The forfeiture of games.

“There have been breaches to the protocols and individual players, staff, and clubs have been disciplined as a result,” Goodell writes. “We will not only conduct reviews in cases of multiple positive tests at one club, but the league and union will continue to conduct inspections of club facilities to ensure protocol compliance. If it is determined that club personnel or players failed to have followed the protocols, discipline will be issued and will escalate where noncompliance continues. Protocol violations that result in virus spread requiring adjustments to the schedule or otherwise impacting other teams will result in additional financial and competitive discipline, including the adjustment or loss of draft choices or even the forfeit of a game.”

The league threatened the potential loss of draft picks last week, in connection with violations of the requirement that all sideline personnel wear (properly) face coverings. This latest warning applies to situations like the one that arose last week in Tennessee, where an outbreak among the Titans compelled a shifting of the team’s Steelers-Titans game to Week Seven, the shifting of the Steelers-Ravens game to Week Eight, the moving of Baltimore’s bye to Week Seven, and the Titans and Steelers taking an unscheduled bye in Week Four.

Forfeiting games is a major step, and it’s unclear whether the threat is real or idle. If games go away, the league would owe refunds to the networks for the untelevised games.

However, if reckless behavior by teams potentially results in far more than one game being not televised, declaring a forfeit, scrapping a game, and refunding the money paid for the broadcast rights of that game could be money well spent.

19 responses to “Commissioner suggests forfeiture as potential punishment for COVID-19 protocol breaches

  1. 32 Teams, 60+ players per team (53 and Practice Squad) and a Dozens of equipment men and Coaches/Trainers per team cannot be Bubbled like the NBA.

    Guys are going to get COVID and they are going to spread it.

    I am doubtful that we will have a Season.

    Everybody needs to be perfect for months. These are young guys, they can’t do it. No one would be able yo be perfect.

  2. Forfeiture is a ridiculous penalty. “Hey guys, they found another way to rig the playoffs!”


    Your average fan.

  3. All it takes is one team’s carelessness to cancel the entire NFL season.

    Forfeiture should absolutely be on the table after an investigation.

    The only issue becomes trusting the NFL to do a proper investigation……

  4. Zero percent chance he would do anything to his best friend Krafts team. They could all blatantly disregard the rules and that coward wouldn’t do a thing about it.

  5. I’m not a Goodell fan, but I applaud him for this. I’m happy to see the league demand that teams take this seriously. Hopefully knuckleheads like Gruden and Harbaugh will comply and ensure their teams do as well so the nuclear option is never necessary.

  6. Imagine the impact of a team being made to forfeit a game giving their opponent a free win. And imagine that free win puts a team over the top in a division and results in a playoff spot, where a divisional rival with the same overall record has to pack up and call it a season based on a tie-breaker. I understand the message, but once forfeits come into play, the season will become a complete fraud.

  7. I could understand the days where there is only 1 game like monday and thursday if something cant be flexed to it but the majority of games are sunday and unless it wipes out a full slate of games(like all 4pm games) the networks will have games to televise. Just this past weekend the bears/colts was flexed to a later time because of the titans game being cancelled so unless it’s a monday or thursday game being cancelled I dont see how they would owe the networks as their still giving them programming at the scheduled times.

  8. Honestly, they should just eject coaches who don’t follow protocols in game. That would rectify the problem instantaneously.

  9. I can hear the Fantasy Football world going crazy already if a team has to forfeit a game.

  10. They should never have started the dang season if this is now an option on the table and rational people are and have been saying that. This is ludicrous. The flipping president just about died and the NFL can’t keep containment. Let’s call it what it is and knock this crap off already.

  11. Yet… the Cincinnati Bengals got nothing when
    the new england patriots filmed their signals.

  12. That leaves the door open for disgruntled players and staff go rogue and sabotage their team.

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