NFL Will Fine Players on Cincinnati Bengals and All Teams $14K for COVID-19 Violations

Let's hope that Cincinnati Bengals players are vaccinated from COVID-19 — or that they have deep pockets.

Jul 26, 2021 at 4:24 pm
All NFL franchises, including the Cincinnati Bengals, have new COVID-19 regulations. - Photo: Craig Weiglen
Photo: Craig Weiglen
All NFL franchises, including the Cincinnati Bengals, have new COVID-19 regulations.

Let's hope that Cincinnati Bengals players are vaccinated from COVID-19 — or that they have deep pockets.

Late last week, the National Football League (NFL) issued a memo outlining that league teams — including the Cincinnati Bengals — would pay fines and other penalties if they developed COVID-19 outbreaks due to unvaccinated players.

And now we have an idea of what those fines might be.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Saturday that unvaccinated players will be fined $14,650 every time they violate the league's COVID-19 procedures.

According to the Times, the fines were discovered after Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians claimed he would fine a player “$14,000 on the spot every time he isn’t wearing a mask or is breaking protocol,” the Times reported.

Arians later clarified to ESPN that this wasn’t his own policy but rather the NFL’s.

In the same article, ESPN reported that league spokesperson Brian McCarthy confirmed that Arians “was correct” in understanding the NFL’s rule against unvaccinated players.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert shared the NFL's guidance for unvaccinated players in a tweet. Unvaccinated players must wear a mask at club facilities and during travel, receive daily COVID-19 testing, remain physically distanced from other players, may not leave their hotel, may not participate in media or sponsorship events, and several other prohibitive regulations, Seifert said.

In contrast, vaccinated players are largely unrestricted.

Last Thursday, the NFL issued a memo announcing new consequences that teams would face if a COVID-19 outbreak would occur among unvaccinated players. The penalties would apply to all teams within the league, including the Cincinnati Bengals (CityBeat reached out last week to the Bengals for comment).

If a coronavirus outbreak were severe enough to cancel a game, a team may reschedule a game within the season. But the NFL said that if rescheduling within the 18-week season isn't an option, the team with the COVID-19 outbreak would forfeit and be credited with a loss, according to Tom Pelissero, a reporter with the NFL Network.

Moreover, the NFL will not extend the season to accommodate rescheduled games, the NFL said.

The NFL's memo added that teams with COVID-19 outbreaks would be responsible for financial losses and could be subject to further penalties by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

"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," the memo said. "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."

The memo reportedly showed that more than 75% of NFL players have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Cincinnati Bengals have a higher than league average vaccination rate, according to USA Today.

Despite many NFL players and staffers getting vaccinated, many, including star players and coaches, some have refused to do so.

Former Minnesota Vikings assistant coach Rick Dennison left his role with the organization on July 23 after refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to ESPN. 

ESPN's Mike Reiss has reported that since Dennison's departure, New England Patriots offensive line coach Cole Popovich will not be with the team this year due to concerns with the coronavirus vaccine.

The NFL's crackdown on unvaccinated players comes as Ohio and Kentucky are reporting an increase in COVID-19 cases largely driven by those who are unvaccinated. Earlier this year, the Cincinnati Bengals held a massive COVID-19 vaccination event at Paul Brown Stadium downtown as part of the NFL's league-wide efforts to increase vaccination rates

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the medical director for the Ohio Department of Health, said last week that COVID-19 cases within Ohio have doubled over the past few weeks and that the Delta variant is becoming more prevalent.

In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear said last week that younger residents are increasingly getting the Delta variant, largely because they are the ones who are less likely to have been vaccinated. Because vaccine administration for all age groups has plateaued, Delta has risen quickly in Kentucky and other nearby states — several straight weeks of steep case and hospitalization increases, Beshear said. 

Scientists say that Delta is much more contagious than the original version of the virus or its previous mutations because of the heavier viral load within the breath that expels from an infected person's mouth, said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. Researchers have reported that people infected with the Delta variant have up to 1,000 times more virus than others, presenting great risk to others when talking or sneezing, especially indoors.

"Delta is maybe 2.5 times more transmissible," said Stack. "It's spreading like wildfire."

Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.