Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will step away from football in order to help win a bigger game.

The Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman has opted out of the 2020 NFL season, becoming the first player in the league to do so.

Duvernay-Tardif, who holds a medical degree from McGill University in Canada and has been working in recent months at a Montreal-area long-term care facility, explained Friday night via Twitter why he decided to sit out the season in order to continue fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on the front lines.

“Given the worldwide sanitary crisis we are currently experiencing, the NFL and the NFLPA have agreed to significant health and safety protocols to protect the players,” he wrote. “There is no doubt in my mind the Chiefs’ medical staff have put together a strong plan to minimize the health crisis associated with COVID-19 but 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. That is why I have decided to take the opt-out option.

“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. “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.”

Duvernay-Tardif, 29, has been the Chiefs’ starting right guard since 2015. He started 14 games in 2019 and played in every offensive snap in the Chiefs’ win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

His announcement came in the aftermath of the NFL and NFLPA agreeing to a collective-bargaining contract for the 2020 season. Players will have until Aug. 3 to decide whether to opt out. Those who do so for medical reasons will receive a $350,000 stipend from NFL team owners, according to The Associated Press. Players who opt out voluntarily reportedly will receive a $150,000 stipend.

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