Buffalo Bills Stand to Lose More Than Just Games Due to COVID-19

The NFL will crack down hard on all teams who may not be able to play every game due to outbreaks.
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The NFL may not be able to force players like Bills' leaders Josh Allen, Cole Beasley and Jordan Poyer to get vaccinated for COVID-19, but it can order a "Code Red" on those who don't, and Thursday announced that would ostensibly be the case for teams that are forced to miss games due to outbreaks among  non-vaccinated personnel this coming season.

With approval from the NFLPA, the league plans to not only penalize teams who are forced to forfeit games due to outbreaks, but their opponents as well.

The NFL has informed teams that it will not extend the season to accommodate a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players that causes a game cancelation.

Any team responsible for a cancelation will have to forfeit the game, be responsible for all financial losses incurred by both teams and be subject to discipline from the commissioner's office.

What's more, players from neither team will be paid.

This is essentially the same rule that was in place last season, in which no games were actually missed, although the Denver Broncos were forced to play a game without a quarterback on their active roster (and lost).

Bottom line: When it comes to green, the NFL will order payment in blood red. No word on how many points above the vig, though.

Given the way some of the Bills players feel about the pandemic and the legitimacy of the vaccines, it's fair to wonder if the issue could rip an otherwise tight locker room apart.

Before Thursday, it was mostly just Beasley who was outspoken on social media about how determined he is to avoid the vaccine (for reasons he never really specifies).

But then offensive lineman Jon Feliciano and defensive end Jerry Hughes jumped into the fray -- with opposing viewpoints.

Feliciano went the conspiracy route, implying that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden, stood to gain from the whole thing.

Fun thoughts, to be sure.

Insert Jack Nicholson's Colonel Jessup meme here: 

NFL will order Code Reds for teams that have to forfeit games this season.

NFL will order Code Reds for teams that have to forfeit games this season.

Then it was Hughes' turn for a rebuttal.

"Sooo the top scientists in the entire world got together to figure out how to combat Covid-19," he Tweeted. "And when they came up with a vaccine, you question them. They are trying to save lives and you have doubt."

For the record, here's part of the memo sent by the league:

"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.

"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."

According to NFL Network's Judy Battista, more than 78% of players league-wide have had at least one shot, and 14 clubs have at least 85% of players vaccinated.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that all 32 teams have at least a 50% vaccination rate among players.

Although Bills general manager Brandon Beane was reprimanded by the league as well as the players' union for a statement that he made early in the offseason that he would consider cutting an unvaccinated player over a vaccinated one if everything else was equal, this plan by the league clearly promotes that kind of thinking and encourages that kind of behavior.

Yet what this all means for the Bills is unclear. Their vaccination rate is not known. But they stand to lose in every way possible if they have outbreaks that force them to forfeit games if they don't reach that 85%.

As much as they wanted to avoid vaccination talk heading to training camp next week, it will remain the top issue surrounding this team until there's some clarity.

Nothing else will even come close.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to Nicky300@aol.com.