The NFL has rallied around Laurent Duvernay-Tardif after the Canadian right guard, and practicing doctor, became the first player to opt out of the 2020 season to remain on the Covid-19 frontline.
Duvernay-Tardif, 29, earned a medical school degree from McGill University in 2018. The Canada native has worked during the offseason as an orderly at a long-term care facility near Montreal, and he said he would continue to work there during the NFL season.
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The decision means Duvernay-Tardif will make $150,000 from the NFL’s opt-out deal instead of the $2.75 million that he had been slated to earn, according to ESPN.
The six-year veteran, who started 14 games at right guard for the Super Bowl champion Chiefs last season, chose to put others above himself.
“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,” the 29-year-old NFL star said in a statement.
“Being at the frontline during this off-season 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 I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”
I’ve been lucky to meet great people who have been caring for our elderly. Meet Guylaine, the nurse who trained me. She is the ultimate team player that leads without asking for anything. With all the changes in schedule and personnel, she continues to care with a smile! pic.twitter.com/CqaTJvasKs— Laurent D. Tardif (@LaurentDTardif) May 14, 2020
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His teammates and fans rallied around the extraordinary decision and labelled the 29-year-old a ‘hero’.
Patrick Mahomes says he was surprised by Laurent Duvernay-Tardif's decision but he respect the decision.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) July 25, 2020
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is a Hero.— Chad Forbes (@NFLDraftBites) July 25, 2020
I haven’t had this much respect for an NFL Players choice to step away from Football since Pat Tillman.@LaurentDTardif Thank You Doctor
I don’t care if he plays zero snaps in 2020. Yes, many athletes have done their share of contributing by donating meals or money due to COVID-19. But Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is the only player worthy of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award this season. He’s a hero.— Farzin Vousoughian (@Farzin21) July 25, 2020
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes said he understood the decision and respected his teammate’s sacrifice.
“I think it surprises anyone, but at the same time you respect his decision,” Mahomes told reporters on a Saturday video conference call.
“He’s a guy that’s been on those front lines working with the people that are suffering from COVID day to day and putting in all that time and all that work. He understands it and his decision was he wanted to stay there, he wanted keep helping in that capacity.”