This is the first of three items on sports attempting to have “normal seasons” in 2020-2021.
Because of COVID-19, the NFL and the NFLPA have enacted an “opt out” clause for players who don’t want to participate in the 2020 season (as if there will be one). Players who choose to sit out will get $150,000 and their contracts extended another year. Nice work if you can get it.
In reality, the league and its owners will call players sitting out “cowards” and won’t have any trouble replacing them. They will likely cut the players’ contracts once they find cheaper replacements. If there is a “season”, expect the play to be on par with the 1987 replacements.
It’s likely players would be afraid of losing their contracts unless a big name player decides to do it first. One now has: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif of the Kansas City Racist Name team. He is one of the league’s best offensive linemen and part of the Stupor Bowl winning team from last January. Teammate and running back Darien Williams has also opted out, and at least thirty other players.
Duvernay-Tardif opted to sit out because he has medical degree from McGill University (he has yet to complete his residency), and is taking care of COVID-19 patients at a care facility in Montreal. Even though he’s relatively young (29), he may decide to retire. He has a championship ring and US$22 million in career earnings.
A player as high profile as him to sit out may encourage other players to do the same. And you may see more retirements once players enjoy having an entire year off and seeing how their health improves (vis-a-vis the 2004-2005 lockout that wiped out an NHL season).
Super Bowl champion Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the first practicing medical doctor to play in the NFL, has decided to opt out of playing in the upcoming 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,” the 29-year-old Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman said in a Twitter post. “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 NFL season.
“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. 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 is the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season because of the pandemic. According to ESPN, Duvernay-Tardif was set to earn $2.75 million this season. By opting out, he will get $150,000 instead as a result of a Friday agreement struck between the union and the league.