NFL chief warns of forfeits, docked picks in Covid clampdown

New York (AFP) –


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell warned teams on Monday they could be forced to forfeit games or be docked draft picks if found guilty of Covid-19 safety protocol breaches that result in fixtures being postponed.

In a memo sent to all 32 teams, Goodell said the league would maintain a hardline against violations which led to further disruption of the regular season schedule.

The warning comes after a Covid-19 outbreak involving the Tennessee Titans forced the postponement of the team's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The NFL was also forced to reschedule Sunday's game between the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots after quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for the coronavirus.

So far this season, the NFL has already handed out fines totalling more than $1 million (848,909 euros) after several coaches were see not wearing face coverings on the sidelines.

"There have been breaches to the protocols and individual players, staff, and clubs have been disciplined as a result," Goodell wrote in his memo on Monday.

"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," Goodell added.

"Simply put, compliance is mandatory. Now is the time to recommit ourselves to our protocols and best practices for the duration of the season."

Goodell said the league was implementing tweaks to existing safety protocols in an attempt to limit the chances of Covid-19 spreading within a club.

These included banning gatherings outside of the club facility and the implementation of a league-wide video monitoring system to ensure staff and players were complying with rules regarding wearing protective gear.

Goodell said the league had also discussed further steps to minimise risk, which included reducing time spent in dining areas and locker rooms and holding all meetings virtually.