Vancouver, BC- Super Bowl champion, and McGill University medical school graduate, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has become the first NFL player to announce that he will not be playing in the 2020-21 season.
With professional sport returning across North America, the NFL’s regular timetable does not start until late August, however, the league’s lone medical proffesional/player already thinks it’s not a good idea.
The NFL and NFL Players Association agreed on an opt-out option for players uncomfortable returning to play in a country grappling with COVID-19. Duvernay-Tardif played a key role in the Kansas City Cheifs’ 2020 Super Bowl campaign and has been working to fulfill the requirements to become a doctor since lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy in February.
“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,” said the right guard 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.
The native of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que has been fighting COVID-19 from Canada’s front lines and has seen the horrific effect it can have on people. It’s this experience that prompted him to post to social media.
“Being on the frontlines during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system. I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love.”
While the league and the player’s association agreed on the “opt-out” option, the 29-year-old is forfeiting a large sum of cash. The former McGill football player was scheduled to earn a base salary of $2.75 million with the Chiefs this season, but will receive far less than that.
According to the “opt-out” agreement, players considered to be at high risk for COVID-19 can earn $350,000 if they choose to opt-out of the 2020 season while players without risk, such as Duvernay-Tardif can earn $150,000.
To have the only medical professional in the league opt-out of the return-to-play is a very strong statement, as the defending champions will be forced to find a replacement right guard. The NFL is the only one of the five large (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS) American-based professional sports leagues to not have a revised return-to-play plan.
Cover Photo: McGill University