NFL players continue to opt out over safety concerns of playing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The reigning Super Bowl champions will be missing a starting running back this season with Damien Williams’ decision to opt out for 2020. However, Williams has pretty much the best possible reason for choosing not to risk coronavirus exposure by playing this year. He revealed in an interview with NFL Radio that his mother was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
Cancer patients and survivors are among the most high risk for COVID-19, so it would be a huge danger to his mother’s’ health if Williams was constantly exposed to teammates, staffers, and opponents during the season. Additionally, strict player quarantine guidelines would make it much more difficult for the running back to visit his mother or support her during treatment.
Damien Williams said his mother was just diagnosed with stage four cancer, which is why he opted out of this season. https://t.co/rZaZeptQ4G
— Sam McDowell (@SamMcDowell11) July 30, 2020
Family should always come before football, and Williams isn’t the first one to be faced with the difficult decision. Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Marquise Goodwin chose to opt out because he has a five-month old daughter, and he and his wife previously struggled to have children. Dont’a Hightower of the New England Patriots will also sit out because of his newborn son and his mother’s diabetes.
Williams is the second member of the Chiefs’ offense to voluntarily opt out of the season. Right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will also be missing from the lineup, because he is serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as a doctor in a long-term care facility. Both pieces will be difficult to replace, but Williams was expected to play an especially significant role in the Chiefs’ new run game.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire *should* have been a top-20 pick before Damien Williams opted out. Top-10 lock now.
Over the last two years, Damien Williams has averaged 21.7 fantasy points per game in 16 starts (50% or more of snaps). That would have made him 2019’s No. 2 RB behind CMC.
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) July 29, 2020
Williams had a breakthrough season in 2019, leading the Chiefs with 498 rushing yards (a massive career-high). He also contributed 213 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He was an essential piece for the Chiefs during the playoffs, where he put up five of his seven touchdowns and 196 rushing yards.
The Chiefs drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire at No. 32 in the 2020 NFL Draft, which was unexpectedly low, and KC fans were excited to the rookie running back bring some new explosiveness beside Williams. The duo could have been unstoppable, but now CEH will really have to step up in an incredibly unusual first NFL season. Rookies are always a gamble, but Edwards-Helaire definitely has the potential to fill Williams’ shoes while he takes care of his family.