‘I wanted to go help:’ Super Bowl champ puts medical degree to work helping in coronavirus fight

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is stepping off the field and onto the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic just months after winning the Super Bowl.

Duvernay-Tardif, the first medical student graduate to play in the NFL, detailed his return to medicine in a Sports Illustrated article where he described his “first day back” at a long-term care facility just an hour outside of Montreal on Friday — the second night of the NFL Draft.

“I felt nervous the night before, but a good nervous, like before a game, and I packed everything neatly: scrubs, white coat, extra pens, even a second pair of shoes that I could leave in my locker, knowing they were clean,” he wrote.

“My shift started at 7:30 a.m. I found out that I would be working for now in more of a nursing role, helping relieve the workers who have already been in place.”

Duvernay-Tardif said that while he was “drained” after a full day, he was already “looking forward to going back.”

The 29-year-old guard said he had been following the coronavirus pandemic in its early stages, even before helping the Chiefs take home their first Super Bowl win in 50 years. He expressed his desire to help early on but was limited.

“I hold a doctorate in medicine. I don’t have a specialty yet, and I haven’t done the residency portion of the program … I reached out to the health ministry and public health authorities, but found out that I fell into a gray area where they didn’t know what to do with me, because I don’t have a license to practice—yet.”

He was told to help spread the message of the importance of social distancing using his platform but as the crisis grew, he had a chance to get more involved.

“A few days ago, health ministry officials started a campaign to recruit health care professionals, especially students in medicine and nursing. 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,” he wrote.

Duvernay-Tardif said he received support from the Chiefs and that the organization was “proud of the fact that I wanted to go help.”

As a member of the NFLPA’s task force, Duvernay-Tardif is greatly involved in all aspects of the fight to control the spread of COVID-19. While wanting sports to return to serve one facet of his life, he recognizes the importance of being cautious.

“It’s too soon to say when sports might come back. Or what that might look like. What I can say is if we’re not playing in September, 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.”

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