David Chao, MD: Duvernay-Tardif Opts Out To Continue Work As Doctor

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The doctor is out.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is the right guard for the Kansas City Chiefs. He is also the only active player/doctor in the NFL. Additionally, he is the first to declare that he will sit out the season due to CoronaVirus.

When he made his announcement, the ink barely had time to dry on the opt out protocol that the NFL and NFLPA agreed to hours earlier.

Much respect to Duvernay-Tardiffor being the first one to declare that he won’t play this year. However, I don’t believe this will be the start of a big NFL trend as he has a unique perspective from his unusual position.

Duvernay-Tardif doesn’t cite his personal risk as the main reason to opt out. Despite what he describes as a undoubtedly strong safety plan by the league, union and the Chiefs, he acknowledges there is some risk to players. However, he indicates it is his conscience that drives the decision:

“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.”

Kudos to Duvernay-Tardif for this stance.

During the Super Bowl week, I asked him whether becoming a NFL player or becoming a doctor was harder and he humbly stated he didn’t fully know as he still was unable to truly practice medicine yet. He received his medical degree but has not completed his internship/residency requirements in order to obtain his official license to practice medicine.

During the pandemic he has been working in a long-term care facility as an allied health professional performing nursing type duties. Seeing the affects of COVID first hand is what drives his decision.

His decision is made easier by his contract status. In 2017, he was given a 5 year $42 million contract with total guarantees of over $20 million with a $10 million signing bonus. Earlier this year, his contract was restructured with his new money lowered significantly and the deal set up to void after the 2020 season anyways making him a free agent after this opt out. 

Given the pandemic, Duvernay-Tardif has yet to received his Super Bowl ring.
He will always be a champion in life.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.


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  1. He can do what he likes and it’s his life to live, but why did he make his statement? Because it’s political. He is political now.

    One very ‘eye opening’ thing to me during this pandemic is how many doctors (or future docs) are willing to be political tools. Or act like tools regarding health.

    We all know the psychology profession is feminized and broken. They study everything and solve nothing. But that’s just psychology.

    Actual medicine was suppose to be immune from political slant and feminism etc. it’s not. I know plenty of doctors that are fearless and brilliant. They know That what they say and do carries weight. Most people faithfully listen to doctors. They would never exaggerate and I think this Opting out football guy exaggerates.

    Making his statement about ‘worry’ regarding infecting others and Blah Blah Blah … coming from a future doctor is no different than Dr Fauci wearing a mask and then not wearing a mask.

    It’s an Alarmist and exaggerated Statement that would not matter at all, but he is a future doctor, so now it really matters. To some.

    Very disappointing.

    (Ps: not a criticism of Dr Chao)

  2. Hospitals get the worst cases of the Coronavirus and other sicknesses at their front door. I know many people, including myself, that avoid hospitals at all costs- short of feeling like I’m going to die. Even then, I’m going to sleep on it. So, Tardif isn’t going to see the amount of people that are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms. Tardif’s viewpoint is understandable. However, the risks to contract Coronavirus at the hospital and in his normal life at home are going to be present. He needs a Clay Travis pep talk in his life.

    • I have to respect his decision and his stated logic. Sounds like his reasons are altruistic so kudos to him. Maybe he wants to do his internship so he can start practicing medicine. I know I would take a year off medicine if offered a chance to play NFL football (but dreams only last 8 hours, not a year. LOL)

  3. It is definitely more dangerous to be a doctor in this pandemic than a football player. If this is his Pat Tillman stance, kudos to him; but if he is saying that football shouldn’t be played, well……bye!

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