Chiefs Player Treating COVID Patients Opts Out of NFL Season


Offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became the first player to opt out of the upcoming NFL season on Friday, choosing to put his medical degree to use rather than helping the Kansas City Chiefs defend their first Super Bowl title in 50 years.

Duvernay-Tardif has been working to fulfill requirements to become a doctor in the offseason, and has spent this summer working at a clinic in his native Canada.

“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 his announcement on Twitter.

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The NFL and its players association agreed earlier Friday to an opt-out clause for the upcoming season.

Those who choose it 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.

“Being at the front line 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.

“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.”

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The deadline to opt out is Aug. 3.

The Chiefs welcomed rookies to training camp earlier this week. Veterans such as Duvernay-Tardif were expected to arrive in the coming days.

The 29-year-old Duvernay-Tardif was a relative unknown when the Chiefs selected him in the sixth round of the 2014 draft out of Canada’s McGill University. But he earned a spot in the starting lineup by the following season.

Duvernay-Tardif played well enough while starting 27 of his next 30 games to sign 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.

Duvernay-Tardif played every offensive snap in last season’s playoffs, helping the Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers for the title.

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The Chiefs signed most of their free agents, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes and defensive tackle Chris Jones inked monster contracts over the summer.

They had 20 of 22 starters on offense and defense returning before Duvernay-Tardif announced his decision to opt out.

“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,” he said.

“I want to thank everyone in the Kansas City Chiefs organization for their support and understanding.”

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