Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was one of the first NFL players to opt out of the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns and decided to spend the season helping those on the front lines fighting the pandemic.
Duvernay-Tardif was awarded the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian of the Year at ESPN’s award over the weekend. On Sunday, he called on other pro athletes to make a larger impact in their own communities.
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“Being a professional athlete comes with a lot of privileges but also a responsibility to use your platform to have a positive impact in your community. Winning this award for my work off the field is a huge honor,” he tweeted.
Duvernay-Tardif could have been playing in his second Super Bowl in February, but opted to put his medical degree to the test during the pandemic.
Last July, he said it was a tough decision to opt out.
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“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,” his statement read. “Being at the front line during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system.”
He continued: “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.”
He said in February he still believed he made the right choice.
The Chiefs selected Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round of the 2014 draft out of McGill University. He started 27 of his next 30 games and earned a four-year, $42.36 million deal in February 2017. It would have paid him a base salary of $2.75 million this season, with a $750,000 roster bonus.
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The conditions of a voluntary opt-out agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA last year meant he only received a $150,000 stipend. Players that opted out for medical reasons receive $350,000, sources told The Associated Press.