If Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is going to risk his life he is going to do so on the front lines of a global pandemic, not on a football field.
The Chiefs offensive lineman became the first player to opt out of the upcoming NFL season so he can remain fighting the coronavirus pandemic at a clinic in his native Canada.
Duvernay-Tardif, 29, who his working to fulfill his requirements to become a doctor this offseason, made the announcement on Twitter Friday night.
“Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system,” the veteran lineman wrote. “I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”
Duvernay-Tardif was a sixth-round pick of the Chiefs in the 2014 draft out of McGill University in Montreal. He has started 57 of the 60 games he has played in during his NFL career, including every offensive snap during the Chiefs’ playoff run to a Super Bowl title in February.
He agreed to a five-year, $41.25 contract extension in 2017 and would have been set to earn a base salary of $2.75 million this season. Instead he will collect a reported $150,000 stipend for those players who choose to voluntarily opt out of the season in a deal between the NFL its players’ union. Players who are granted a medical opt out will receive $350,000, per the AP.
Duvernay-Tardif said in his statement that while he believes the Chiefs have put together a “strong plan” to guard against the spread of COVID-19, but he knows “some risks will remain.”
“This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my life but I must follow my convictions and do what I believe is right for me personally,” he added.
NFL players will have until Aug. 3 to opt out of the 2020 season.
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