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Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL isn’t mandating the COVID vaccine. But with its latest decision, is further incentivizing it ahead of the 2021 season.

The full completion of the 2020 NFL season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, without a single missed game (regular season or playoffs), was one of the more impressive tasks this league has ever accomplished.

And although a COVID-19 vaccine is now available, outbreaks of the disease among those unvaccinated — and thus the potential need to cancel and/or reschedule games — are still possible.

The NFL isn’t toying with this concept and is continuing to heavily incentivize the vaccine with one of its latest decisions.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that if there is an outbreak among unvaccinated individuals and a subsequent game is canceled and cannot be rescheduled, that team experiencing the outbreak will forfeit the matchup. The credited loss will then count towards the team’s eventual playoff seeding (if the postseason is in that organization’s future).

That team, per Pelissero, will also be held accountable for financial losses and potentially face discipline.

The league isn’t preparing to add a 19th regular-season week to assist in the possible rescheduling of games, Pelissero additionally writes.

Potentially the most significant incentive as part of the recent COVID-related league decisions, however, involves a possible loss in pay.

Pelissero reports that if a game is canceled (and subsequently can’t be rescheduled), players from both teams will miss out on their weekly paragraph 5 salaries.

The NFL revealed the updated training camp protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals last month. And yes, the difference in protocols is like night and day — even more reason for players to get the vaccine and protect not only themselves but their teammates and coaches as well.

With the NFL’s July 27 unified training camp commencement approaching, the hope is that this notable incentivization of the vaccine will help lead to a safe environment across the league and one that doesn’t require the cancelation and/or rescheduling of games.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.