The Kansas City Chiefs enter the 2020 season with the intention of returning to the Super Bowl, but the team will miss one key piece. Starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will not be on the active roster. He confirmed on Friday his intention to opt-out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns.
The 29-year-old Duvernay-Tardif is a defending Super Bowl champion, but he is also a medical school graduate from McGill University in Canada. He has spent recent months assisting as an orderly in a long-term care facility in the Montreal area. This time dealing with the coronavirus pandemic provided Duvernay-Tardif with a unique viewpoint of the situation, as well as the "hardest decision" of his life. Ultimately, he decided it was best to opt-out of the upcoming football season.
"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," Duvernay-Tardif said in a statement. "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." Duvernay-Tardif continued to explain that he must follow his convictions and do what is right for him personally.
"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 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."
The league and the NFLPA agreed on Friday to a deal that provides players with the option to sit out of the season without major penalties. Players that are "high risk" to the virus will earn $350,000 and an accrued NFL season. Players without any risk will earn $150,000 for opting out. Duvernay-Tardif would have earned $2.75 million during the 2020 season as part of his current five-year, $42.363 million deal.
Adam Teicher of ESPN spoke to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The newly-wealthy Super Bowl MVP expressed surprise about Duvernay-Tardif opting out of the season. However, he also said that he respects his teammate's decision. Additionally, Mahomes revealed that he had initial concerns about returning to the practice facility, but the team's protocols provided some relief. "It's better than I thought coming in," he told Teicher.