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Kansas City Chiefs’ Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is the first NFL player to opt out of the season, saying Friday that he doesn't want to risk transmitting the virus just “to play the sport that I love.”
Duvernay-Tardif, who has been working to fulfill his requirements to become a doctor in the offseason while working at a clinic in his native Canada, said in a statement posted to social media on Friday that the decision to opt out was a tough one.
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“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,” his statement read. “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.”
He continued: “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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Chiefs selected Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round of the 2014 draft out of McGill University. He started 27 of his next 30 games which earned him 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.
But the conditions of a voluntary opt out agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA means he will only receive a $150,000 stipend. Players that opt out for medical reasons will receive $350,000, sources told The Associated Press.
Duvernay-Tardif has dealt with a series of injuries since signing the deal. He fractured his fibula in Week 5 of the 2018 season and was out until the playoffs, and he missed two games with injuries during last season's Super Bowl run.
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He played every offensive snap in the playoffs, helping the Chiefs rally to beat the San Francisco 49ers for the title.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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