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NFL player will skip season to care for mom with cancer: 'My mom is my rock'

Damien Williams is the second Chiefs player to opt out of the 2020 NFL season.
Damien Williams of the Kansas City Chiefs
Damien Williams of the Kansas City ChiefsAdam Glanzman / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Family comes before football.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams said he will opt out of the upcoming NFL season after his mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

"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 on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "With everything that’s going on, she was the only one there for me."

"I never had the opportunity to have my dad there," he continued. "My mom is my rock, my everything, so during a hard time like this, I think I should be next to her every step."

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Williams, 28, said he made the decision to skip this season after consulting with his family, friends and, of course, his mom.

"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."

The NFL gave players the option to opt out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Players have until Aug. 3 to opt out and their decisions will be considered final, according to the NFL. The regular season is set to begin on Sept. 10.

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Williams is the second player for the Chiefs who is choosing to sit out the 2020 season. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, an offensive lineman who is also a medical doctor, said last week he won't play during the pandemic.

"Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our health care system," he said. "I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients."