Over 60 NFL players opt out of 2020 season citing coronavirus concerns

Members of several NFL teams have decided to sit-out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19

Brandon Bolden #38 of the New England Patriots looks on before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

With the looming threat of COVID-19 dozens of NFL players have decided to opt out of the upcoming season.

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CBS Sports reports, in total, 67 professional football players have decided to skip the upcoming season due to the coronavirus pandemic. NFL athletes had a deadline of 4 p.m. on August 6 to do so.

Following the deadline, players can only sit-out if “a close family member gets seriously sick with COVID or if they themselves are newly diagnosed with a high-risk condition.”

Most of the league’s star players will take the field this season, however, some teams lost key players once written notices were submitted. Others like the Atlanta Falcons, both the Los Angeles Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams, and the Pittsburgh Steelers lost zero members to the COVID-19 opt-out option, according to CBS Sports.

The teams with multiple teammates taking the season off include The New England Patriots, who had a league-high eight players who won’t join the team this season. Brandon Bolden, Marcus Cannon, Patrick Chung, Dont’a Hightower, Matt LaCosse, Marqise Lee, Najee Toran, and Danny Vitale have all decided not to play.

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Hightower and Chung will be notable absences, as both are starting players who’ve played in three Super Bowls wins with the Patriots. Head coach Bill Belichick says he stands by their decisions.

“Well, I respect all of them. I respect all of the players on our team,” he says according to CBS Sports. “We all have to make decisions and I talked to those guys and they explained their situations. They had to make a decision that was best for them and I totally respect and support it 100%.”

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The Cleveland Browns also lost more players than most teams. The five who have decided to not participate in the 2020-2021 season: Andrew Billings, Drake Dorbeck, Drew Forbes, Colby Gossett and Malcolm Pridgeon.

Odell Beckham Jr. reportedly does not agree with the NFL initiating a new season. TheGrio reports that he initially felt that profits were being prioritized over players. Still, Beckham was not one of the 67 players to submit a written decision to opt-out.

According to CBS Sports, Kansas Chiefs offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a Canadian who is a medical school graduate, was the first player to officially decide to sit out. His teammates, Lucas Niang and running back Damien Williams made the same decision.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association plan allows high-risk individuals with existing conditions to opt-out and receive a $350,000 stipend; those with less at risk would receive a $150,000 salary advance.

The 2020-2021 season is expected to kick-off on Thursday, Sept. 10, with the Texans playing the Chiefs.

Read the full list of voluntary Opt-outs provided by the NFL.

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