Three months ago, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was preparing for Super Bowl LIV in Miami. It was a simpler time then with few indications that the coronavirus, still in its early stages, would become a global catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude. No stranger to battling in the trenches, the Kansas City Chiefs guard has switched out his red, No. 76 for hospital scrubs, embracing his new role as a nurse in his native Canada, where nearly 3,000 COVID-19-related deaths have already occurred.
A 2018 graduate of McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine program where he earned Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery certifications, Duvernay-Tardif has been pitching in at a “long-term” facility, administering medications to patients throughout the coronavirus outbreak. The 29-year-old described his initial experience as draining, though the Super Bowl champ is happy to help out any way he can during this difficult time.
“My first day back in the hospital was April 24. I felt nervous the night before, but a good nervous, like before a game,” Duvernay-Tardif told Greg Bishop in an article published by Sports Illustrated. “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.” The six-year NFL veteran was eager to assist—Duvernay-Tardif and his girlfriend cut short their Caribbean vacation once the virus’ severity became apparent—but first he had to complete a “crash course,” familiarizing himself with proper sanitary practices to ensure his safety against the highly contagious COVID-19.
Owing to his responsibilities on the gridiron, Duvernay-Tardif has yet to complete his hospital residency, putting him in somewhat of a “gray area” for medical purposes, though the former sixth-round draft pick was eventually approved for work at a facility an hour outside his home in Montreal. Due to his contractual obligations, Duvernay-Tardif needed the green light from the Chiefs before he could resume his medical duties. Luckily, they were more than happy to accommodate him.
“They’ve been amazing,” Duvernay-Tardif said of his NFL employer. “They were proud of the fact that I wanted to go help. They said they would support me.” Duvernay-Tardif, who started 14 of Kansas City’s 16 regular-season games at right guard in 2019, is also serving on an NFLPA task force, working closely with league officials and medical experts to determine when and how play will resume.
“It’s too soon to say when sports might come back,” the long-time Chief acknowledged. “Knowing all the implications of what sport means for a nation and the money behind this huge industry, there are going to be bigger issues than not playing football.”
Duvernay-Tardif isn’t the only athlete fighting on the front lines of COVID-19 with former Titans safety and Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle helping the cause as a resident at Mass General. Marshall Leonard, a six-year MLS veteran for the New England Revolution, has also been involved in the relief efforts while working as an ER doctor in New York City.