Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: A True Super Bowl Hero

NFL Player Opts Out of Championship Season to Work the Frontlines


Credit: @laurentduvernaytardif on Instagram.

Kiley Galvin '23, Staff Writer

On Sunday, February 7, the sports world watched as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady clinched yet another Super Bowl victory along with his fifth Super Bowl MVP title. While the lackluster blowout of a game was a bit disappointing, the entertainment surrounding the Super Bowl appealed to sports fans and non-sports fans alike. Between live concerts, human interest stories, and an interview with President Biden, the pre-game coverage of the Super Bowl had something for everyone.

While viewing some of the pre-game player documentaries, one story in particular caught my attention. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared on the screen to talk about Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a Kansas City Chiefs offensive guard and the only current NFL player who is also a doctor. Duvernay-Tardif, a 29 year old in the prime of his athletic career, opted out of the 2020-2021 NFL football season to work on the front lines and help fight the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Just about a year ago, Duvernay-Tardif returned home to his native Canada after winning the 2020 Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs. His flight was one of the first to arrive in Canada that required a 14-day quarantine for each passenger. Shortly after his trip, with the 2020 football season behind him, Duvarney-Tardif learned about the demand for health care workers to care for those infected with Covid-19.  Duvernay-Tardif was in his third year of medical school when drafted by the NFL and had already earned a medical doctorate.  He had not yet completed his residency, but had a strong background to fill a need, so he worked at a long-term care facility that housed Covid patients.  

It didn’t take long for this Super Bowl champion to realize the impact he was having on patients’ lives. 

“At the beginning, I think I was kinda scared of catching Covid, so I would just do my thing with a patient, whether it was putting an IV or doing a blood draw or handing out medication as quickly as possible so I can get out of the room,” Duvernay-Tardif told the New York Post. “And then at some point, I started putting myself in the patient’s perspective, and realized that they don’t see anybody else than you because they cannot see any visitors, so building that human connection and that interaction with them is probably the most important thing to be honest, especially when you work with elderly people that they’re not gonna go back home, so making sure that they’re comfortable is probably the most important thing.”

This compassionate attitude influenced Duvernay-Tardif’s  admirable decision to forego playing in the 2020-21 NFL season with the Chiefs in order to continue his important work of caring for those in medical facilities. His overarching goal of helping others attracted him to the medical profession and drove his difficult choice of sitting out in a season when his team was favored to make another Superbowl appearance.  But for Duvernay-Tardif, the small fulfillment he feels while helping others makes this sacrifice worth it. 

“When a patient’s able to get a haircut, when you take the time to like FaceTime with a patient’s family and get them together even though it’s virtually … putting a smile on your patient’s face; they’re going through so much right now that I feel like when you’re able to do that … It feels great, it really does,” he said.

While Duvernay-Tardif was personally fulfilled by his decision to work in the challenging medical field this past year, his efforts and sacrifices were not unnoticed by the sports world. His commitment to serve others earned him Sports Illustrated’s coveted Sportsperson of the Year for 2020.  Duvernay-Tardif joined four other elite athletes including LeBron James, Naomi Osaka, Patrick Mahomes and Breanna Stewart, in receiving this award, one of the highest honors in the sports world.  The fact that Duvernay-Tardif was able to earn this honor without even stepping onto the field this season speaks volumes about his character.  

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif embodies heroic qualities and exemplifies all aspects of St. Luke’s mission statement. His commitment to the many years of schooling needed to become a doctor illustrates his deep love of learning.  Laurent’s service to others and strong moral compass led him to forgo substantial compensation, recognition, and a Super Bowl title when he made the decision to opt out of the NFL season and help those who needed it most during the pandemic.  He is a true leader who exhibited confidence by making a difficult decision and then showed how selflessness can have a positive impact on the world. He is a strong role model for all of us. Although his team wasn’t victorious in the Super Bowl, he is truly a winner on and off the field.