Kansas City Chiefs player Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is the first NFL player to opt out of the coming season due to coronavirus fears.
The offensive lineman is also a doctor and has been working in his native Canada during the off-season and says he will continue to do so when the season starts again.
Duvernay-Tardif will earn $150,000 from the opt-out deal agreed between the NFL and the players’ association – much less than his usual salary.
‘I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love,’ the 29-year-old wrote on Twitter.
‘If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.’
‘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,’ added the guard, who is the only active NFL player with a medical doctorate.
‘That is why I have decided to take the opt-out option.
‘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.’
The season is set to start on September 10, with training camps with strict safety protocols set to open for players on July 28.
Health and safety guidelines will be put in place throughout the season in order to reduce the risk of playing as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
‘We have worked collaboratively to develop a comprehensive set of protocols designed to minimise risk for fans, players, and club and league personnel,’ Commissioner Roger Goodell said.
‘The season will undoubtedly present new and additional challenges, but we are committed to playing a safe and complete 2020 season, culminating with the Super Bowl.’
Duvernay-Tardif won the Super Bowl with the Chiefs last season – only the second time in their history and the first for 50 years.