The Kansas City Chiefs will be with one less rookie when they begin their Super Bowl defense campaign this fall. On Thursday, third-round pick OL Lucas Niang informed the team that he would be opting out of the 2020 year, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
#Chiefs rookie tackle Lucas Niang is opting out of the 2020 season, per source.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 6, 2020
Niang was ambitious to begin the season more than a week ago, sharing his excitement during a July 25 interview after Chiefs rookies had started training camp.
“I’m super excited,” he said. “It’s nice to see how they’re doing everything safety wise, keeping us safe and making us feel comfortable, but I’m really excited to get on the field.”
This marks the third Chiefs player to opt out of the NFL season because of COVID-19 concerns. The first was right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif followed by running back Damien Williams. Out of the entire league, he is the 61st player to sit out the season. Other players who decide to follow suit have until 4:00 p.m. EST Thursday to do so. Players withdrawing because of a medical reason will be compensated $350,000, while athletes opting out without a medical reason will receive a $150,000 advance on their 2021 salaries.
According to Pro Football Talk, the former TCU star’s rookie deal is slated to be pushed back a year. Now, Niang’s official contract will run from 2021 through 2024.
Damien Williams Opted Out Because of Mom’s Cancer Diagnosis
An essential member of Kansas City’s offense last year, Williams shocked everyone when he announced he too would be absent from the NFL season.
Statement from GM Brett Veach
“Damien Williams informed the club of his decision to opt out of the 2020 season." pic.twitter.com/dEQ2sUs9u2
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) July 29, 2020
In an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio last week, the 28-year-old went into detail about his decision.
“I’m dealing with a family matter, my mom was just diagnosed with cancer and it’s Stage 4, so that was my decision,” Williams said, via Pro Football Talk. “With everything that’s going on, she was the only one there for me. I never had the opportunity to have my dad there. My mom is my rock, my everything, so during a hard time like this, I think I should be next to her every step.”
He continued: “It was hard, I sat down and talked to everybody in my circle, my family and everybody close to me,” Williams said. “My mom was just like, whatever’s your decision, I’m behind you. It was hard. Football is my life and coming off a championship and wanting a repeat — and I know they’re going to handle that — but at the end of the day, it was something personal I had to handle.”
This is certainly a difficult decision for all athletes. Of course, the idea of losing out on a year of activity is daunting, whether you’re a veteran or suiting up for the first time professionally. However, this proves that it spans beyond football, and personal issues should take precedence over anything else.