Canadian Duvernay-Tardif becomes first player to opt out of 2020 NFL season

KANSAS CITY, MO.—Canadian offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif won’t be helping the Kansas City Chiefs defend their Super Bowl title.

The 29-year-old from Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., became the first player to opt out of the upcoming NFL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic Friday. The Chiefs’ starting right guard earned a medical degree from McGill University and has been working to fulfil his requirements to become a doctor in the off-season.

He has been on the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic this summer and said in a social media post that if he is going to take any health risks, it will be to help patients.

“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,” Duvernay-Tardif said in a message on Twitter. “This 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 on the front line during this off-season has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our health care system. I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love.”

The NFL and its players association agreed earlier Friday to an opt-out clause for the upcoming season. Those who choose to voluntarily will reportedly receive a $ 150,000 (U.S.) stipend rather than their contractual salary while those with medical opt outs will receive $ 350,000.

The deadline to opt out is Aug. 3.

Duvernay-Tardif signed a four-year deal in February 2017. He recently renegotiated the contract and was scheduled to receive a base salary of $ 2.75 million this season.

Kansas City drafted Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL draft out of McGill. He has been a starter at right guard since 2015 and helped the Chiefs win the Super Bowl last season, their first in 50 years.

TORONTO STAR