Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said Saturday (via Grant Gordon of NFL.com) he respected the decision of right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to opt out of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic:
"I think it surprises anyone, but at the same time you respect his decision. 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 [to] keep helping in that capacity and I know it was difficult for him, but you respect the decision for him to kinda put his thoughts aside and kinda do what he thought was best to help out his community and the world as he sees it."
Duvernay-Tardif announced Friday he won't play this year, saying he couldn't justify potentially transmitting COVID-19 "in our communities simply to play the sport that I love" and putting further strain on the health care system:
Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill also showed public support to Duvernay-Tardif:
The 29-year-old Duvernay-Tardif—a medical school graduate from Canada's McGill University—had been working this offseason as an orderly at a Montreal long-term care facility.
"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," he wrote on Twitter.
"I'm so happy and proud," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said of Duvernay-Tardif. "What a tribute to him and the profession. They're natural givers and healers. No, it didn't surprise me."
Duvernay-Tardif has served as Kansas City's starting right guard in five of his six NFL seasons, starting 14 games last year. He was an important part of the offense that led the team to a Super Bowl victory.
Ryan Hunter figures to be the top candidate to take Duvernay-Tardif's place in the starting lineup.
As a part of the updated CBA the NFL and NFLPA agreed to on Friday, players can opt out of the season. Those who are considered high-risk for the coronavirus will earn an accrued season and a $350,000 salary, while other players who opt out will earn a $150,000 salary.