Most football fans get to know players over the course of their careers, although they often only see them as players. It’s sometimes overlooked what players do outside of football or after their playing days are over. There is perhaps no better example of that than Quebec native Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
Duvernay-Tardif is best known as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent seven seasons with the team, helping them on their journey to winning Super Bowl LIV while also becoming a prohibitive favorite at betting sites on a weekly basis, as Kansas City is rarely listed an underdog these days. However, Duvernay-Tardif is far more than one of the best Canadian players in recent memory. He’s a true hero off the field as well.
For starters, Duvernay-Tardif took an unusual route to the NFL. The Quebec native stayed in Canada for college, going to McGill University. He also put his studies first, only practicing once a week at times while playing for the McGill Redbirds. Duvernay-Tardif was three years into middle school when the Chiefs drafted him in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Rather than choosing one or the other, he played for the Chiefs and spent his offseason continuing work toward his medical degree.
In 2018, Duvernay-Tardif became the first NFL player to also be a practicing medical doctor. Several NFL players have become doctors after their careers, but before Duvernay-Tardif, nobody had done both at once. On top of that personal milestone, he was playing for the Chiefs in February 2020 when they won the Super Bowl, earning the ultimate team accomplishment for a football player.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. Duvernay-Tardif became the first NFL player to announce his intentions of sitting out the 2020 season. But he didn’t do it to protect himself; he did it so that he could continue working on the frontlines against the disease. When the pandemic hit, Duvernay-Tardif was working as an orderly at a long-term care facility in Montreal, and during the darkest days of the pandemic, he continued to do his best to protect the residents of that facility.
“I quickly realized that, because of COVID, people were not going to be returning home. And it gave me a different perspective on life,” Duvernay-Tardif told ESPN in a 2021 interview. “It gave me a different perspective on football. It gave me a different perspective on everything.”
Duvernay-Tardif returned to the NFL in 2021 and also played during the 2022 season. But after playing parts of eight seasons in the NFL, starting 64 games, and winning a Super Bowl ring, Duvernay-Tardif decided to call it a career in September 2023. With football finally in the rearview mirror, Duvernay-Tardif will now be able to put all of his focus on his career as a doctor. It’s amazing that a person has been able to balance being a pro football player with being a doctor. But as much as Duvernay-Tardif was able to accomplish as a part-time doctor during his football career, he should be able to do even more now that medicine is his full-time career.
“Although closing the door on this chapter of my life will be difficult, I am serene in this decision and I retire with the feeling of mission accomplished,” Duvernay-Tardif said when he announced his retirement. “I view this incredible experience not as an ending, but as a springboard towards other projects.”