Laurent Duvernay-Tardif started as an offensive guard for the Kansas City Chiefs last season, but opted out of the 2020 campaign and the team’s run to Super Bowl LV to work in the medical field amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview that released on Friday, Duvernay-Tardif spoke about his decision to forgo football and instead prioritize his next career as a physician, which had to be a very tough call to make in the moment.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: ‘I made the right decision’
Duvernay-Tardif explained to NFL Network’s Andrea Kremer how he had a long-term view of what sitting out of the 2020 NFL season would mean, which helped him make the proper call.
“I gotta be able to look at myself 10 years from now when I’m going to be a physician and be like, ‘I made the right decision,'” Duvernay-Tardif said.
The 29-year-old certainly has uncommon perspective and maturity. He made the decision not to play football early on, when there was far less knowledge available about the coronavirus and how dangerous it was. While there’s assumed risk in playing pro football, Duvernay-Tardif was clearly making the choice to put his life on the line.
But he was able to be back home in Quebec, Canada, near his family, and as it turned out, the experience of working at the Gertrude-Lafrance center gave Duvernay-Tardif insight into his eventual new profession he never would’ve had otherwise:
“I realized that those elderly patients, they were not going to go back home, either from COVID or something else. What really mattered? It’s not the treatment, it’s the caring. Making sure that your patients are comfortable, that they preserve their dignity. It’s important to take the time to connect with these people. And I think that, down the road, is going to for sure make me a better physician.”Laurent Duvernay-Tardif on volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic
Any indication that Duvernay-Tardif is distraught or feels like he’s missing out that he can’t contribute to a potential back-to-back championship run for Kansas City isn’t evident here.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif’s future with Kansas City Chiefs
With one year still remaining on his contract, there’s a high probability Duvernay-Tardif will return to the Chiefs for the 2021 season.
It’s vital Kansas City puts as many quality protectors in front of superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes as possible, and Duvernay-Tardif definitely fits that bill among the players currently on the AFC champions’ roster. He excels in particular as a pass protector, which is key, since Mahomes likes to freelance and bail from the pocket often to create explosive plays.
Having someone like Duvernay-Tardif who can play within the offense while still honoring Mahomes’ unique instincts is going to be vital to the Chiefs’ success going forward.
Plus, Duvernay-Tardif should be returning to the gridiron with fresh legs. With a more normal offseason program — at least that’s the hope — leading into next season, Duvernay-Tardif should be able to get back into football shape and be ready to resume his role at starting right guard in coach Andy Reid’s offensive scheme.