Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes won’t have one of his trusted protectors in front of him for the 2020 NFL season.

Canadian offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif elected to opt out of the 2020 year in his contract to stay at work fighting the coronavirus as an orderly in a long term care facility in Quebec.

“I think it surprises anyone, but at the same time you respect his decision. He’s a guy that’s been on those front lines working with the people that are suffering from COVID day to day and putting in all that time and all that work,” Mahomes said.

“He understands it and his decision was he wanted to stay there; he wanted to keep helping in that capacity and I know it was difficult for him, but you respect the decision for him to kinda put his thoughts aside and kinda do what he thought was best to help out his community and the world as he sees it.”

The former J.P. Metras Trophy winner for McGill University was the first active NFL player to graduate from medical school. Due to the time requirements of playing in the NFL, Duvernay-Tardif has not completed a medical residency but made international headlines this off-season when he decided to work as an orderly at a long-term care facility in Quebec, one of the areas of life most hard hit by the virus.

“From everybody that I’ve spoken to, everybody respects his decision 100 percent. Larry’s a guy who loves football, but he also loves his other passions and being a doctor is extremely important, especially at this time that we’re at in this world. And so for him, I know it’s difficult for him, he wants to be out here with us, he wants to be a part of us, he wants to be a part of the guys,” Mahomes said.

“But at the same time, he wants to make sure he’s doing something to make the world a better place and I believe he is doing that. He’s seen it first-hand and he understands he has to be in that place now and we’re gonna respect it and give him as much support as we can.”

Mahomes won the NFL’s MVP award in 2018 and led Kansas City to a Super Bowl title for the first time in 50 years, earning Super Bowl MVP honours in February. The 24-year-old QB signed a monster contract extension on July 6, it’s 10 years long and worth up to $503 million — he’s the first pro athlete to ink a deal for half a billion dollars.

It’s about anything but the money for Duvernay-Tardif as he continues to battle COVID-19 on the frontlines in Canada and his franchise pivot recognizes the importance during the global pandemic.

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Justin Dunk is a CFL insider, sports reporter and news anchor.