“It is one of the hardest decisions I have had to make in my life, but I have to follow my beliefs and do what I think is right for me personally,” Duvernay-Tardif said in a post. on Twitter. “This is why I have decided to take the exit option negotiated by the League and the NFLPA and officially withdraw from the 2020 NFL season. ”
The 29-year-old Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., The Chiefs’ starting right guard, earned a medical degree from McGill University and worked to meet his demands to become a doctor during the offseason.
“It was a very difficult decision, as Laurent mentioned in the press release, it was one of the most difficult decisions he had to make in his life,” said Sasha Ghavami, the agent of Duvernay-Tardif and longtime friend, who saw him struggle with the decision. the last days.
Ultimately, Duvernay-Tardif decided if he was going to take a risk from COVID-19 in a pandemic, it would be with patients, not on the football field.
“He preferred not to put himself in that position this season,” said Ghavami. “If he were to be put in a position to take risks, it would be treating patients.”
His experience in responding to the Quebec government’s call for nursing aides to work in long-term care homes severely affected by COVID-19 led him to make his decision.
Duvernay-Tardif documented part of his stay at the Center Gertrude-Lafrance, an establishment in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, south of Montreal, on his social media accounts.
“Laurent is a person with a lot of beliefs and has always been true to his beliefs and what he thinks is the right thing for him to do,” said Ghavami.
The NFL and its players’ association agreed earlier Friday on a opt-out clause for the upcoming season. Those who voluntarily choose to receive a stipend of US $ 150,000 instead of their contractual salary, while those who opt out for medical reasons will receive $ 350,000.
The deadline to unsubscribe is August 3.
Duvernay-Tardif signed a four-year contract in February 2017. He recently renegotiated the contract and was expected to receive a base salary of US $ 2.75 million this season.
It’s been a 2020 whirlwind for Duvernay-Tardif, his agent said: winning the Super Bowl in February, restructuring his contract to stay with the chefs, and then heading into long-term care.
Ghavami said Duvernay-Tardif understood it could mean missing a possible Super Bowl repeat in Kansas City, led by the quarterback Patrick mahomes, remains a serious competitor. His agent said he was convinced he would bounce back.
“It’s a huge decision, it’s very difficult for a professional athlete, you do everything in your power to be able to win,” said Ghavami. “It’s definitely a decision that makes things more difficult. ”
Kansas City drafted Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He’s been a starter in right guard since 2015.
Ghavami said Duvernay-Tardif’s decision had received a largely positive reaction on social media.
Among the participants, the Minister of Health of Quebec, Christian Dube.
“A heartbreaking decision for @LaurentDTardif, but which reflects his values as a healthcare professional,” he wrote on Saturday.
For his part, Ghavami said he couldn’t be prouder.
“I’m proud because being able to believe in something so firmly that you’re willing to sacrifice your pay, potentially your job, and even take that job publicly and stay true to it is something I very much admire,” said Ghavami.
“When you look at an athlete’s career, his legacy, you can always look at the wins, you can always look at the losses, you can always look at the championships, but what stands out are these types of moments. ”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 25, 2020.