The NFL has a lot of regulations in place right now as the tentative season is meant to kick off (pun intended) on time in a few months. One of the things that is in the more than 100 page document regarding the upcoming season is that any player can opt out of the season and it is not allowed for the team to penalize them for doing so. This comes along with a massive reduction in salary of course but at least in theory, the teams are not allowed to fire the players for refusing to play out of fear of Covid.
The first one of those players to opt out has emerged, and he is Canadian.
It doesn't matter that he is Canadian outside of the fact that I never knew that he was before and there are not very many non Americans in the league at all. I am not trying to say anything nasty about our friendly neighbors to the North - so don't get the wrong idea.
An interesting part of his perspective about why he is opting out is that in the off-season he is training to be a doctor. I have no idea how far along the process he is but this is an impressive feat to be smart enough to potentially be a physician and also have the physical prowess to be involved in one of the world's most physical sports and excel at in on the level of playing for what is currently the best team in the world.
He will receive a mere $150,000 of his normal more-than-$2.5 million salary as a consequence of his election to not participate.
In a twitter message and I would imagine a full press release he stated his reason for not coming back this season as follows.
“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.”
Here is the full statement in French
Just kidding, although I am impressed that he is able to do both languages but to be fair a lot of Canadians are completely fluent in French because they are required to learn it in school and in some parts of the country it is the primary language.
So, will other players follow suit or do they value their salaries too much? For me personally, i think that this might have been, at least in part, a publicity stunt to draw attention to the fact that he is studying to be a physician and perhaps he is hoping this will score him some points in that department. Sorry to be a pessimist but I always assume people have an ulterior motive.
I also think it is relatively impossible that the various teams aren't going to take offense and perhaps have hidden punishments for anyone who opts out of playing. If more follow suit, I would imagine that there would be a backlash from the teams even though such action is forbidden. This will be especially true if a particular player is seen as a crucial element of the team and it is important to note that although he is injury prone, Duvernay-Tardif played every single snap during the playoffs and the Super Bowl in 2019. You could say that he is kind of "crucial" to the Kansas City Chiefs.