Chiefs player first to announce he will skip upcoming season due to pandemic

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1. STILL IMAGE OF TWEET FROM KANSAS CITY CHIEFS PLAYER AND MEDICAL DOCTOR LAURENT DUVERNAY-TARDIF ON WHY HE WILL NOT PLAY THIS NFL SEASON

"Given the worldwide sanitary crisis we are currently experiencing, the NFL and the NFLPA have agreed to significant health and safety protocols to protect the players. There is no doubt in my mind the Chiefs' medical staff have put together a strong plan to minimize the health risks associated with COVID-19 but 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. That is why I have decided to take the Opt Out Option negotiated by the League and the NFLPA and officially opt out of the 2020 NFL season. 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. 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. I want to thank everyone in the Kansas City Chiefs organization for their support and understanding. Stay safe, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif."

2. CLOSEUPS OF DUVERNAY-TARDIF STATEMENT

MIAMI, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES (FILE - JANUARY 29, 2020) (USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES - MUST COURTESY 'USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES') (MUTE)

3. STILL PHOTO OF KANSAS CITY CHIEFS OFFENSIVE GUARD LAURENT DUVERNAY-TARDIF DURING NEWS CONFERENCE BEFORE SUPER BOWL 54

MIAMI, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES (FILE - FEBRUARY 2, 2020) (USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES - MUST COURTESY 'USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES') (MUTE)

4. STILL PHOTO OF DUVERNAY-TARDIF CELEBRATING WITH CHIEFS QUARTERBACK PATRICK MAHOMES AFTER WINNING SUPER BOWL 54

MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA (FILE - FEBRUARY 10, 2020) (USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES - MUST COURTESY 'USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES') (MUTE)

5. STILL PHOTO OF DUVERNAY-TARDIF BEING INTRODUCED BEFORE DOING CEREMONIAL PUCK DROP AT MONTREAL CANADIENS NHL HOCKEY GAME AGAINST ARIZONA COYOTES

STORY: Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif on Friday opted out of the upcoming NFL season due to risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming the first player to announce his decision to skip the new campaign.

Duvernay-Tardif, the league's only active player who is a medical doctor, spent the summer working at a clinic in his native Canada. He said if he were going to take any risks with his health, it would be to continue to assist on the frontline.

"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," the 29-year-old wrote on Twitter. "That is why I have decided to take the opt-out option."

"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," added Duvernay-Tardif, who started 14 games for the Super Bowl champions last season.

"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 did not specify whether he would continue working in the clinic during the season.

The NFL and its players' union agreed on changes to the 2020 collective bargaining agreement on Friday, clearing the way for training camp and the upcoming season.

ESPN said that as part of the agreement, players considered at high risk of contracting COVID-19 can earn $350,000 if they choose to opt out of the season, while those that are not at risk can earn $150,000 for opting out.

The NFL will reopen training camps for all players on July 28, with the season opener slated for Sept. 10.

(Production: David Grip)

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