Kansas City Chiefs' guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif said he will be sitting out this NFL season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"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," he wrote in a lengthy Instagram statement. "That is why I have decided to take the Opt Out Option negotiated by the League and the NFLPA and officially opt out of the 2020 season."
Duvernay-Tardif is the first player to publicly announce that he is opting out of the season, according to NBC Sports. The athlete, who graduated with a medical degree, has been working as an orderly at a long-term care facility in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec, according to the outlet and NFL.com.
He wrote in his Instagram post that he knows the team's medical staff will provide a safe environment for players, but he doesn't want to take the risk.
"Being on 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 said. "I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our own communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients."
The Chiefs did not immediately return a request for comment. On Friday, the NFL and the National Football League Players Association agreed to an opt-out plan that would pay a stipend to players who wish to sit the 2020 season out.
During a press conference Saturday, Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes said he respects his teammate's 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," Mahomes said. "He understands it and his decision was he wanted to stay there; he wanted 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."
Mahomes said he has a "little concern," but added that there are protocols in place to keep everyone safe.
"It's made me feel better even than I thought coming in, knowing how much the NFL and NFLPA has really put in to making sure that we can be as safe as we possibly can be," he said.