The Kansas City Chiefs had a second starter from their Super Bowl LIV victory opt out of the 2020 season because of coronavirus concerns, as running back Damien Williams informed team officials he would sit out.
"As an organization, we certainly understand and respect Damien's choice, knowing it was made in the best interest of his family,'' general manager Brett Veach said Wednesday. "He means a lot to our football team as a player and a person, and we're going to miss having him around this season.''
On Thursday, Williams told SiriusXM NFL Radio that he opted out because his mother was just diagnosed with cancer.
"My mom was just diagnosed with cancer and it's Stage 4, so that was my decision. With everything else going on, she was the only one there for me. I never had the opportunity to have my dad there, so my mom is my rock, my everything. During a hard time like this, I think I should be next to her every step," he said.
"My mom said, 'Whatever decision, you know, I'm behind you.' At the end of the day, it was hard, football is my life, especially coming off a championship and wanting to do a repeat. ... At the end of the day, this was something personal I had to handle."
The Chiefs drafted a running back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire of LSU, in the first round this year. They also have two of their running backs from last season, Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson, and free-agent addition DeAndre Washington.
Williams, because of various injuries, was limited to 11 regular-season games and six starts in 2019, but he still led the Chiefs in rushing with 498 yards. He not only started the Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers but was a star. He rushed for 104 yards and scored the game's final two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one on a 5-yard pass from Patrick Mahomes that gave the Chiefs the lead and the other on a 38-yard run that gave them the final 31-20 margin over the 49ers.
Williams scored six touchdowns in the Chiefs' three postseason games.
Starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif also opted out of the 2020 season.