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From offensive line to coronavirus front line: Super Bowl champ quickly switches focus

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2. These days, he’s a doctor on the front line during the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

Back in February, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was a newly crowned Super Bowl champion, riding with his Kansas City Chiefs teammates on the top of double-decker buses along city streets lined with ecstatic fans.

It’s a scene that “is totally inconceivable right now,” Durernay-Tardif said in an essay published Monday by Sports Illustrated.

“Adding a million people in the streets? Piled up on top of each other? Drinking and cheering in subzero temps?” the offensive lineman wrote. “It’s so wild to even think back to then, this time two months ago that feels like another lifetime.”

A few days before Super Bowl LIV, Durernay-Tardif was asked by a reporter for his thoughts on the coronavirus outbreak in China. It wasn’t that odd of a question for the NFL’s only active player who is also a medical doctor. Durenay-Tardif replied that he had read a little about the virus but mainly had been focused on the big game against the San Francisco 49ers.

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Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, an offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs, is the NFL’s only active player who is also a physician. Now he gets to play in the Super Bowl against the 49ers.

But that focus quickly shifted. COVID-19 became a global pandemic and Duvernay-Tardif is on the front line as a doctor at a long-term care facility near his hometown of Montreal.

“A few days ago, health ministry officials started a campaign to recruit healthcare professionals, especially students in medicine and nursing,” wrote Durernay-Tardif, who has a doctorate in medicine and master’s in surgery but hasn’t done the residency portion of his program. “It’s now possible for me to go back and help. I had already wanted to, but when it’s real, it hits you, the gravity involved.”

After getting the Chiefs’ blessing and taking a crash refresher course, Duvernay-Tardif slept through the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night and worked his first shift next morning. He is serving more of a nursing role right now and helping those in need in a time of crisis.

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Laurent Duvernay-Tardif works during his externship in sports medicine at the McGill Sport Medicine Clinic in Montreal. He graduated in May 2018 with a Doctor in Medicine and Master in Surgery.
( Dominique Lafond)

“It’s wild to think that just 10 weeks earlier I played in the biggest game in sports,” Duvernay-Tardif wrote in SI. “I was reminded of that even at the facility, when one of the people training me turned and said, ‘You’re the football player, right?’”

After Duvernay-Tardif answered yes, the trainer said, “Bro, you just won the Super Bowl.”

"Indeed,” Duvernay-Tardif replied, “and now I just want to help.”


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