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Laurent Duvernay-Tardif Opts Out Of $2.75 Million NFL Season To Fight COVID-19

Amy Pilkington 25 Jul 2020

As we move into mid-summer of the longest year ever, competitive sports are beginning to ramp back up, though without the full stadiums that fans and players might be used to.

Pro athletes now need to decide whether they feel comfortable getting on the field again, but for Kansas City offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the choice was easy.

On July 24, 2020, he announced that he would be voluntarily opting out of the 2020 NFL season.

In a statement he released on Twitter — in both English and French, to be true to his Quebec roots — he said that while he believes that the NFL is doing everything in its power to limit the risk to players and staff, even that small risk isn't worth the $2.75 million salary he was set to receive for the upcoming season.

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Why is such a small risk still not worth it? Because Duvernay-Tardif is a licensed medical doctor.

When he was first drafted into the NFL in 2014, Duvernay-Tardif was in his third year of medical school. Since then, he has continued his studies and returned to Montreal in the off-season to complete his clinical rotations.

In May, 2018, he successfully earned his medical degree, though he still needed to complete his residencies to become a fully licensed doctor.

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That's how he came to be working in a long-term care facility just outside Montreal in late-April.

As he was not yet fully-licensed, he couldn't just jump into the ICU and help frontline workers.

However, as the pandemic spread through the province, Quebec was horribly short of medical workers. The Canadian Armed Forces deployed military personnel to help fill in the staffing shortfall, which was hitting long-term care homes the hardest.

In Canada, more than 80% of the total (as of this writing) 8,923 COVID-19 deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities.

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As the situation worsened, Quebec called for medical students and other newly graduated healthcare professionals to help.

Frustrated that he couldn't do more than spread the word about masks and social distancing measures so far, Duvernay-Tardif immediately signed-up, with the blessing of his NFL family.

Additionally, he worked with the NFL Players' Association to create the safety guidelines for when and if there would be a 2020 season.

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And now Duvernay-Tardif is making the difficult decision to sit it out.

Instead, he is taking the agreed upon $150,000 for a voluntary opt-out and will continue to play a role as an essential healthcare worker as the pandemic continues:

"If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients."

h/t: CBC, Sports Illustrated

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