As of Monday morning, it wasn’t clear whether Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif would be an aberration or the start of a trend. Now, more than 10 additional players have opted out.
So how many more will choose to not play this year? More specifically, will more players be inclined to opt out as they see other players make the excruciating decision to walk away from football for a year?
There’s been no backlash against the players who have chosen not to play pro football in a pandemic. While that may change if/when a high-profile fantasy workhorse chooses to walk away, public reaction should be the least of the concerns for a player who chooses to give up playing football for a season, who chooses to give up getting paid to play football for a season, and who risks that his replacement will perform well enough that, come next year, the team won’t need him anymore.
Are more Patriots players considering not playing, given that five and counting have opted out? Will other players with other teams feel better about not playing, knowing that others have acted on the impulses with which the undecided players are wrestling.
For plenty of the players who are opting out, the decision is being made before they report for training camp. For others, it’s possible that the decision will be made after arriving at the facility, inspecting the safety protocols, and deciding whether it makes sense to play or to not play based on how it all feels in the first few days.
Either way, the decision must be made by August 3. Despite a limited exception for changed circumstances, next Monday becomes the speak-now-or-forever-hold-your-peace moment where the player is all in or all out.