1 of 8
Last year, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif found himself between a dream and a nightmare. The dream: Another season as the offensive lineman of the Kansas City Chiefs, culminating with a potential appearance at the Super Bowl. The nightmare: A global pandemic.
Image Credit: Richmond Lam/The Washington Post
2 of 8
Duvernay-Tardif, who completed his doctor of medicine degree in 2018, became the first player to opt-out of the 2020-21 NFL season in July because of Covid-19 concerns. He had already been working on the frontlines at a long-term care facility in Montreal for several months.
Image Credit: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
3 of 8
'It was by far the hardest decision I've ever had to make,' the 29-year-old Canadian told People magazine. 'You're coming off a Super Bowl, the team's looking really good, you're in a good shape, you want to go back, you want to win. That's that simple. But at the same time, I felt like I was saying — after witnessing everything on the frontline — I was like, ‘Maybe this year, my job is here, my role is here in Montreal."
Image Credit: Twitter/AncienMaigre
4 of 8
Duvernay-Tardif’s dual destinies have always intertwined. In 2014, he was drafted by the Chiefs while completing third year of medical school. At 6’5, the bilingual (French and English) athlete likely towered over the other students at McGill University, where studied during offseason in the NFL.
Image Credit: Twitter/Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
5 of 8
Duvernay-Tardif’s decision to sacrifice his own dreams to help others this season didn’t come easily. Last year, the Chiefs secured their first appearance at the Super Bowl in 50 years — and they won. He had another chance at the ring, but he knew what he had to do.
Image Credit: Instagram/Laurent Duvernay Tardif
6 of 8
'The government here [in Canada] asked people with medical training to go back and help in those long-term care facilities to work with our elderly people and I wanted to be part of that movement,' he said. 'I was able to see firsthand the impact of COVID, not only on the patient but maybe even more so on the medical workers or families, all the sacrifices … I feel like after seeing that, it was hard for me to think that I would cross the border, go into States to play the sport that I love.'
Image Credit: AP
7 of 8
Coach Andy Reid has been in Duvernay-Tardif’s corner these past eight months of working on-and-off in healthcare, and the player said that Reid’s support 'meant a lot to me, because at the end of the day, I still felt like I was letting my team down a little bit.'
Image Credit: AP
8 of 8
Duvernay-Tardif is now also a student at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His sacrifice will go down in NFL history. In November, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced a special arrival of ‘artifacts’ — Duvernay-Tardif’s lab coat and medical scrubs.
Image Credit: Twitter/Pro Football Hall of Fame