KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The NFL and its players reached an agreement on paving the way forward for the 2020 season under the specter of COVID-19, but the campaign won’t include Chiefs right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who announced on Friday night he is opting out of the upcoming season.
“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 posted in an announcement on Twitter. “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.”
Duvernay-Tardif has spent the offseason working at a long-term care facility in Montreal. He earned his medical degree from McGill University in 2018, but hasn’t started his residency program to earn physician status. But he still decided to volunteer his time helping an overworked health care system responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The six-year veteran while the believes the club’s medical staff put together a strong plan to minimize health risks, he says risks still remain he feels an obligation to both his patients in Montreal and the Kansas City community.
“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,” Duvernay-Tardif said in his statement. “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.”
The Chiefs lineman signed a restructured contract in April. He was scheduled to make $2.75 million this upcoming season with a salary cap charge of $5.5 million. Duvernay-Tardif will instead receive a payment of $150,000.
The restructure also voided the remaining season on Duvernay-Tardif’s contract, scheduling him to become a free agent in the offseason. NFL Network reported Friday that for players who voluntarily opt their contracts will toll, or pause, for the 2020 season. That would mean Duvernay-Tardif is expected to remain under contract with the Chiefs in 2021 and would not become a free agent until after that season.
Duvernay-Tardif’s agent, Chad Speck, posted a message of support on Twitter. He said Duvernay-Tardif took a pay cut to the return to the Chiefs effort to “run it back” in 2020, but praised his client for fulfilling his oath in medicine to help others.
“Could not be more proud of @LaurentDTardif – very few people would make this sacrifice,” Speck wrote. “Incredible human being. #ChiefsKingdom.”
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill was one of the first teammates to take to social media supporting Duvernay-Tardif’s decision.
“Gonna miss my brother in locker room, but I love this move,” Hill tweeted.
Duvernay-Tardif said he hopes Chiefs fans understand his decision.
“I want to thank everyone in the Kansas City Chiefs organization for their support and understanding.”