© Reuters. NFL: Super Bowl LIV-AFC Champions Press Conference
By Frank Pingue (Reuters) – Laurent Duvernay-Tardif built an NFL career around protecting others, but a deeper passion for health care convinced him to forfeit the opportunity to defend a Super Bowl championship with the Kansas City Chiefs to join the front-line battle against COVID-19. Less than three months after helping the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory last February, Duvernay-Tardif put his medical degree into practice by working as an ordinance at a Montreal long-term care facility amid the COVID-19 pandemic. By July, the Chiefs’ starting right guard decided to exclude himself from the entire 2020 NFL season, thinking that if he was going to take any risks related to COVID-19 he would rather it be helping patients than playing soccer. “That was without a doubt the most difficult decision I had to make in my life,” Duvernay-Tardif told Reuters in a video interview from Montreal before his team’s Super Bowl clash with hosts Tampa Bay on Sunday. “But in five years, in 10 years and for the next 40 years I will be in the healthcare community, so it made the most sense for me to stay here and I feel like my role was here to contribute and fight the virus. ” That passion led to Duvernay-Tardif, an offensive lineman who was once tasked with protecting prominent Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, taking on tasks like feeding and changing patients, inserting IVs, doing blood draws and delivering medications. And while Duvernay-Tardif’s decision meant that his body took a break from the relentless physical toll NFL players bear over the course of a season, his current role has proven to be just as demanding from an emotional point of view. For Duvernay-Tardif, the duty of transferring patients who tested positive for COVID-19 to the “red zone” of the Montreal facility, where he said they faced a high probability of ever leaving, is something that “is going to leave a safe brand “. SPACE NEEDED Duvernay-Tardif said that when the NFL season began last September he needed some space and therefore did not follow the Chiefs too closely, but his efforts to disconnect proved futile. “You have these weird situations that you’re working in on a Monday and all they talk about on TV is how good the Chiefs are in every patient’s room,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “You have to live with it. Suddenly, you remember your decision.” The 29-year-old Canadian said that while every big decision comes with a bit of regret, he remains confident that he made the right move by swapping his NFL uniform for medical uniforms and that the Chiefs have been supportive of him all along. Since stopping his NFL career, Duvernay-Tardif’s scrub coat and lab coat have been on display in the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Duvernay-Tardif was even one of five athletes recognized as “Sportsman of the Year – Activist Athlete” by Sports Illustrated last December. Duvernay-Tardif said he plans to return with the Chiefs for the 2021 NFL season and therefore, given the virus-related lockdown restrictions, he built an outdoor gym at his Montreal home where he exercises with covered weights. of snow to keep fit. . “I’m training outside right now because that’s all the space I have,” said Duvernay-Tardif, who partnered with Procter & Gamble (NYSE 🙂 Microban 24 disinfectant spray this week as part of their “Most Valuable Protector campaign. “to honor frontline workers. “The only thing I can control is making sure I stay fit and present myself with great mentality and fitness to get my job back.” Duvernay-Tardif has been in contact with Chiefs players this season, but is also aware of the high-risk nature of playoff football and therefore does not want to interfere as they prepare to play on the bigger stage. of the game. On Sunday, Duvernay-Tardif will cheer on his Chiefs as they bid to become the first NFL team in 16 years to repeat as Super Bowl champions. “I’ll be watching the game, that’s for sure, just because that’s all we are allowed to do, and I’ll be cheering for the Chiefs,” Duvernay-Tardif said.