The NFL is warning teams that if they continue to be lax about following coronavirus health and safety protocols, they could face severe punishment. The league has been forced to rearrange the schedule following an outbreak on the Tennessee Titans. The NFL was also forced to move Sunday's Week 4 game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs to Monday night after two players tested positive.
The NFL is currently investigating the Titans after more than 20 players, and staff members tested positive.
On Monday, the league sent a memo to all 32 teams explaining that if they do not follow the league's rules, they could lose draft picks and potentially forfeit games.
"Simply put, compliance is mandatory," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote. "Now is the time to recommit ourselves to our protocols and best practices for the duration of the season."
The NFL also announced new, stricter protocols that will be put in place. The new measures include a longer onboarding process for free agent tryouts, bans on gathering away from team facilities, and a limit on tryouts permitted each week. The league is also considering other options, such as eliminating in-person meetings, requiring players and coaches to wear masks or face shields during practice, and decreasing the size of each team's traveling party.
"The protocols do not implement themselves, however, and our progress thus far cannot lead us to complacency," Goodell continued. "As we have said before: act as if every person you come in contact with has a COVID infection and take appropriate precautions."
The league has been fining coaches and players who violate the protocols. Most of the fines have been given to head coaches who have refused to wear a mask on the sideline during games. Multiple players on Las Vegas Raiders were fined after attending a charity event where masks were not required, and social distancing guidelines were not enforced.
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