Kansas City Chiefs Star, Who Is Also Practicing Doctor, Becomes First NFL Player to Skip 2020 Season

"I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love," Laurent Duvernay-Tardif wrote

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
Photo: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs star Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is staying off the football field, becoming the first NFL player to opt-out of the 2020 season due to concerns over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, the offensive lineman shared a statement on Twitter, explaining that while the Chiefs' medical staff have "put together a strong plan to minimize the health risks associated with COVID-19," he is uncomfortable knowing that "some risks will remain."

"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 athlete wrote.

As the only medical school graduate in the NFL, Duvernay-Tardif has been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response where he witnessed the grim effects of the virus firsthand.

"Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on the pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system," Duvernay-Tardif shared. "I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients."

That same day, the NFL announced that training camps will begin on schedule starting July 28.

"We have worked collaboratively to develop a comprehensive set of protocols designed to minimize risk for fans, players, and club and league personnel," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement, according to USA Today. "These plans have been guided by the medical directors of the NFL and the NFLPA and have been reviewed and endorsed by independent medical and public health experts, including the CDC, and many state and local public health officials."

Last week, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed that fans whose NFL teams allow them to attend games will be required to wear face masks.

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NFL. Alex Burstow/Getty

McCarthy wrote on Twitter, "For those wondering, yes, it is league-wide: fans at NFL games this season will be required to wear face coverings." Alongside the note, he shared a photo of himself wearing a face mask.

The news comes after several other teams made changes to fan attendance at home games ahead of the start of the 2020-2021 football season and amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The New York Jets and Giants will be prohibiting fans from attending their home games at MetLife Stadium, as will the Philadelphia Eagles in Pennsylvania. The Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, and Detroit Lions will also limit attendance, USA Today reported.

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