It’s been a wild couple of years for Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who has become quite the jock since his days of playing Division III football at Amherst College. After an injury-plagued NFL career, he turned to medicine, eventually becoming the first Frenchman to be credited with saving the life of a fellow physician on 9/11. But perhaps his most impressive accomplishments have been in the realm of HIV research. In 2015, he became the first Quebecer to be credited with stemming the spread of the disease in the province. And if you’d like to learn more about his personal story, check out his book, How to Save a Life.
The fullfigurednews blog has a casual, conversational tone, and it has a simple format: a main section of news that includes a transcript of the article, and links to related articles. The author is quoted in the opening paragraph, and the post is geared toward health care professionals.In July 2020, Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent DuVernay-Tardif became the first NFL player to retire after the 2020 NFL season. Instead, DuVernay-Tardif chose to work at a long-term care facility in her hometown of Montreal during the coronavirus pandemic. DuVernay-Tardif, 30, studied medicine at McGill University in Canada and began working as a nurse shortly after winning Super Bowl LIV with the Chiefs in February 2020. In her statement about quitting filming on social media, DuVernay-Tardif called it one of the hardest decisions of her life. Before retiring, DuVernay-Tardif was the Chiefs’ right guard for the past five seasons and played on every offensive line in the team’s Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
During the pandemic, DuVernay-Tardif continued to train to return to the football field. During minicamp in June, his place in the starting lineup was taken by rookie Trey Smith, a sixth-rounder. In a few weeks, during training camp, he has a chance to get his job back.
DuVernay-Tardif is a finalist for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award along with Anthony Rizzo, Laishia Clarendon and Titus O’Neill. The winner will be announced Saturday at the ESPYS (8 p.m. ET/ABC) and the four finalists will be announced on the 12th. in July at the Sports Humanitarian Awards.
In his own words, DuVernay-Tardif explains what it meant to not participate in the 2020 season and why he wants to make a difference on more than just the football field.
Laurent DuVernay-Tardif, who gave up the NFL’s 2020 season to care for patients at the long-term care center, is a finalist for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award. Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire
I have ALWAYS tried to be the best athlete on the field. But I also always wanted to be a better person off the field.
I don’t regret choosing the 2020 NFL season over working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in a long-term care facility. I knew my goal in my senior year was to use my medical education to care for others. My job was not to play football, but to be at the forefront of the global pandemic.
From winning the Super Bowl with my Chiefs teammates in Miami, to joining them in celebrating a parade in Kansas City with over a million people, to working on the front lines in a long-term care facility.
I don’t think what I did was heroic. And some days, in the midst of long-term care, what I did certainly couldn’t be called heroic.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I wanted to go back and help in my role as a doctor. I don’t have a license to practice yet, so it was impossible to do. But I wanted to help in any way I could and ended up working as a nurse at the facility. Basically, I did what my bosses wanted me to do. My job was to feed people, change their clothes, give them medicine, take care of them as best as I could. I’ve learned that no matter what I do, in the end it’s not about taking care of someone at all costs. It’s about caring for others.
I didn’t know what I was getting myself into by coming to work every day. It was pretty hectic. Some days there was no problem. On other days, one patient came in with a runny nose, and the next minute eight patients were positive. We had red emergency zones where the positive patients had to be. It was difficult. We’ve lost a lot of patients.
The past year has really changed me.
I’ve always seen medicine as a way of treating people. I wanted to send people home with good news. Working on the front lines and in the red zones of a long-term care facility was a new environment for me as a caregiver. I quickly realized that COVID was the reason people didn’t go home. And it gave me a different perspective on life. It gave me a different perspective on football. It gave me a different perspective.
I’ve always seen medicine as a way to deal with the stress of sports. When I decided to pursue a medical career while playing professional soccer, I experienced a new level of pressure off the field. What I saw in the emergency room was able to help me directly when playing football and being in a very stressful environment. He helped me optimize my work in the field. But ultimately, working in the medical field helped me define myself as more than just a football player.
Last year I had a different understanding of what is really important in life. I’ve seen so much suffering. I have seen so much resilience. The medical staff showed a resilience I have never seen before.
Do you think playing a team sport makes you a team player? Maybe, but look at the people on the front lines and you’ll see what it means to be a team player. Every day, frontline workers had to work as a team to survive the pandemic.
DuVernay-Tardif wants to draw attention to other health care providers who have been on the front lines of the pandemic. They are the real heroes, he said. laurentduvernaytardif/Instagram
When I decided on the 2020 season, I needed some time to myself. I haven’t really had a chance to discuss my decision with my teammates, other than what I tweeted in July 2020. As much as I wanted to understand everything, I had to focus on working in a long-term care facility. But in the middle of the season, I started turning to my teammates. I always felt part of the team. It’s as if the connection with the Chiefs never left him, despite the distance of over 1,000 miles. Football is in my DNA. It never leaves me, even when I’m on the front lines.
In the winter, when the team was close to the playoffs, I really wanted to play football. I remember really feeling that even though I was far away, in another country, I was still one of the leaders. And I wanted to stay a part of the Chiefs.
Because of COVID-19, fitness centres in Montreal are closed. I decided to build a gym on the balcony of my apartment to be fit and ready for anything. I give my full attention and focus only to training. I’ve never trained this way before, but I feel stronger, faster and healthier than ever. I trained several times a week, despite the cold and fatigue, because I knew I wanted to stay fit for football, but I also needed something to ground me. I trained to keep both feet on the ground and distract myself from what I was experiencing on the front lines.
Just as working out helped me stay grounded, watching the Chiefs every week helped me stay grounded. There was an exception for pandemics. In one of the more difficult times, I was able to watch a Chiefs game on TV. It was a source of entertainment in a very dark time. And I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks sports have brought us together during this pandemic. Sport is the connective tissue of our society. When I watched the Chiefs game on TV, I felt a sense of hope. The hope is that society will eventually return to normal.
But it wasn’t just about watching the Chiefs game on TV. It was when I went to work on Monday morning after the Sunday night shift and watched reruns with my patients.
Some patients were big football fans, and I knew that when I woke them up in the morning to give them their medication, we would discuss the previous day’s game and watch the replays. Although I am completely locked in my suit, visor and mask, there would be an intimate connection through football. Moments like this reminded me that I was there for a reason. It also reminded me that I’m not just there to treat patients, but to care for them. The time we spent communicating made a difference – not just to her, but to me. Many of my patients did not return home. They would not receive treatment for their diseases. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to bring positivity into their lives. And if that means talking about football some days, then great.
About a month after Super Bowl LV, I quit working in a nursing home. I wanted to get back to full training and get ready for the Chiefs’ minicamp. I know the odds of not being able to return to play for the Chiefs. I know that being out for a year is the same as being injured for a whole season. Nothing is guaranteed. There’s always pressure. There’s always competition. It’s a risk I took, but I feel good about it. And when I decided to stop working in a long-term care facility, I knew I had to give myself the best chance to come back stronger than ever.
When I arrived at mini-camp in June, I was alarmed. I wondered if I would always feel at home here. But as soon as I arrived, I couldn’t help but think it was good to be back. But more than that, I couldn’t help but think how glad I was to be back. It is a privilege to run on a football field. And my experience on the front lines has given me that sense of privilege. It gave me a new perspective on all things football.
My teammates and coaches helped me feel welcome again. At the first practice of the mini camp, coach Andy Reid exclaimed: Hey, Doc, welcome back! That sentence meant everything to me. Confession. It was so special to be there again.
When I called Coach Reid to tell him I was retiring for the 2020 season, he said he completely understood and supported me. Of course he was surprised. But I never felt like I didn’t have his support. And that support took a huge burden off my shoulders last year. Back to the field and his words: Hey Doc, that’s part of the reason I’m back and doing my best to be a starter.
Before I was drafted in 2014, Coach Reed was the only coach who understood how important studying medicine was in my life. He knew I needed to practice medicine to achieve balance on and off the field. Many people doubted me. Many people didn’t understand how I could combine medicine and professional football. But Coach Reed never doubted me. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have returned every season for the past seven years and I wouldn’t have been late to graduation every year. He helped me every step of the way. He helped me get where I am today.
Even though he’s in a different country and more than a thousand miles from Kansas City, DuVernay-Tardif said he’s always felt a part of the Chiefs team. Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire
As a professional athlete, I have a responsibility to be the best football player I can be when I’m on the field. But at the end of the day, the most important thing for me is that I can use this platform to promote something bigger than our sport.
When I decided to quit competitive sports and return to the front lines, I wanted to show the next generation of student athletes that it is possible to be more than your sport. It is important to show the impact education can have on your career and your life. It is important to show that balance is necessary. That you are more than just an athlete and that you are capable of making a difference off the field.
In 2016, I founded the LDT Foundation. The aim was to promote a balance between sport, education and art. The goal is to help students find their hobbies and pursue them at the highest level, while still being well-rounded.
IN MY LIFE, I don’t know what will happen next. But I know I will always be involved in medicine, public health, and philanthropy. Whatever happens in my professional football career, I will always use my platform to promote these things.
In a few weeks I’ll be back in Kansas City for training camp. Without the medical staff, I would not have been able to return to work. I don’t like being called a hero because I don’t think I was a hero when I refused to enlist. But I think if I can shed light on the real heroes I worked with every day on the front lines, I’ve done my part.
It’s been almost a year since I decided to come out of the closet, and I’m grateful for the recognition and applause I’m getting for returning to the front. But if I am lifted up, I also want to lift up all the other frontline and health professionals who have not received public recognition and praise. They’re the real heroes. They put everything on the line to care for others and protect our community. I followed their victims. I may be in the spotlight, especially now that I’m trying to get back on the field, but they really deserve it.