Super Bowl champion Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has stepped away from the football field to answer a second calling in the medical field.
The Canadian-born offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs, who holds a doctorate in medicine, wrote in Sports Illustrated on Monday that he is using his medical training to treat patients in the Montreal area amid the coronavirus outbreak.
It seems shocking that a man who was celebrating being a Super Bowl champion just over two months ago is working in a white coat and scrubs instead of football pads and a bright red jersey.
That fact isn’t lost on Duvernay-Tardif.
“It’s wild to think that just 10 weeks earlier I played in the biggest game in sports,” he wrote.
But the 29-year-old guard is following his heart and his training during an unprecedented situation.
On the coronavirus pandemic, the first medical doctor to ever play in the NFL wrote: “Three days before Super Bowl LIV in February, a reporter asked what I thought about the coronavirus. Crazy, right? Back then, I had read a little and knew what type of virus it was and that there were a few thousands cases in China. I told the reporter as much, but added that I was trying to focus on football going into the biggest game of my life.”
Things unfolded quickly from there, though, and Duvernay-Tardif found himself suspending a vacation to head home to Montreal.
After rushing to return to his native Canada in March as the disease spread across the globe, he asked himself if there was any way he could help, and he was initially asked to use his position as a public figure to advocate for social distancing.
“I reached out to the health ministry and public health authorities, but found out that I fell into a gray area where they didn’t know what to do with me, because I don’t have a license to practice — yet,” Duvernay-Tardif wrote. “I don’t have a specialty yet, and I haven’t done the residency portion of the program.”
Health care administrators eventually found a roster spot for him far away from the painted lines at Arrowhead Stadium.
“My first day back in the hospital was April 24. I felt nervous the night before, but a good nervous, like before a game, and I packed everything neatly: scrubs, white coat, extra pens, even a second pair of shoes that I could leave in my locker, knowing they were clean,” Duvernay-Tardif continued.
Back in January, a reporter asked the NFL’s only doctor/guard about the coronavirus. Then Laurent Duvernay-Tardif won the Super Bowl. Then came the pandemic. His story and his move to the front lines here: https://t.co/7EGd29SrNj
— Greg Bishop (@GregBishopSI) April 27, 2020
Commenting on this past weekend’s NFL draft, the offensive lineman made it clear he will return to football.
“I wasn’t aware the Chiefs had drafted a running back that night in the first round, even though I will block for my future teammate, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, from LSU,” he wrote.
But he is going to see his new role through, at least for now.
Duvernay-Tardif serves on an NFL Players Association task force that will help decide when professional football will return for eager sports fans.
“We will look at how teams will train, how they will travel and how the games will take place and, since this is the NFL, a league with a lot of resources, it seems like every option is on the table. For now, we’re just getting started,” he said of his role on the task force.
But Duvernay-Tardif is also trying to keep sports in perspective as he assists his country’s health care workers.
“Playing in the Super Bowl vs. heading back to the medical system during a pandemic is totally different,” he wrote, adding that when playing football, he only “wanted to win.”
“When you’re going in to help it’s more about your duty as a doctor and a citizen. It’s not the time to be the hero and be impulsive. You’ve gotta do it the right way,” Duvernay-Tardif added.
“Sport is really important; it’s a connective tissue for society. But it is not an essential business,” he wrote.
“It’s going to be interesting to see what will happen when it comes to baseball, hockey, basketball and, eventually, football in September,” Duvernay-Tardif concluded.
While the Chiefs guard holds a doctorate in medicine, he said he is working as more of an auxiliary worker at a long-term care facility.
Duvernay-Tardif described his place in the medical facility as “more of a nursing role, helping relieve the workers who have already been in place.”
But no matter what position he is playing in health care, he assured fans that his team back in the states has given him its full blessing.
“I had to check in with the Chiefs from a contract standpoint. They’ve been amazing. They were proud of the fact that I wanted to go help. They said they would support me,” he wrote.
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