KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP/WFLA) — Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has announced his plans to opt out of the 2020 NFL season.
The offensive lineman announced his decision to do just that on Twitter. He is the first player to do so.
“Given the worldwide sanitary crisis we are currently experiencing, the NFL and the NFLPA have agreed to significant health and safety protocols to protect 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 in 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.”
Duvernay-Tardif in 2018 graduated from McGill University’s medical school becoming the first active NFL player to hold a medical degree.
Duvernay-Tardif has been working to fulfill his requirements to become a doctor in the offseason, and has spent this summer working at a clinic in his native Canada. He said that experience helped him decide that if he was going to take any risks with his health, it would be to help patients dealing with the virus.
The NFL and its players association agreed earlier Friday to an opt-out clause for the upcoming season. Those who choose to voluntarily will receive a $150,000 stipend and those with medical opt outs will receive $350,00 rather than their contractual salary, two people with knowledge of the decisions told The Associated Press. The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the stipend amount was not made public.
The deadline to opt out is Aug. 3, but Duvernay-Tardif made the decision before Chiefs veterans were due in camp.
Duvernay-Tardif played well enough while starting 27 of his next 30 games that he earned a four-year, $42.36 million deal in February 2017. It would have paid him a base salary of $2.75 million this season with a $750,000 roster bonus.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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