Sport Laurent Duvernay-Tardif decided to fight the COVID pandemic rather than for another Super Bowl title. He has no regrets
Where is the 2021 Super Bowl: Location, stadium, date, time, halftime show, TV channel, future Super Bowl sites
Check out all you need to know about Super Bowl 2021, including the date, location, how to watch and more for the final Sunday of the 2020 season.Super Bowl 55 will be played on Sunday, February 7, 2021 after the conclusion of the 2020-2021 NFL regular season and conference championship games.
When Super Bowl LV kicks off Sunday, at least one hulking human — a 6-foot-5, 320-pound offensive lineman with an especially vested interest in the outcome — will watch it all by himself, completely absorbed in the result.
In many ways, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is as excited for as it as he is nervous. He started for theteam, and he know the itch to get back to the game will be clawing at him as much as ever since he became the .
“You know, winning at Arrowhead Stadium in front of 80,000 people ... It's a feeling that’s almost like a drug,” said Duvernay-Tardif, who spoke to Yahoo Sports on behalf of. “There were plenty of times during the season that I was like, ‘I've got to be down there.’
How these NFL players who had COVID-19 returned to play
COVID-19 has impacted NFL players in different ways, with 262 testing positive this season. “On long drives, you could see them winded, struggling."You’ve tested positive for COVID-19.
“But I also knew what I signed up for.”
Indeed. But in 2018, when Duvernay-Tardif became the first active NFL player to become a medical doctor, he had no idea it would lay the foundation to one day sacrifice an entire season of his prime to further serve his community and help people.
That’s exactly what happened this season, when the native Canadian decided to continue his offseason work as an orderly in a long-term care facility just outside of Montreal as a way of fighting against the pandemic.
“I feel like it was the right call for me to make, to err on the side of caution,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “Like, there were so many things that were unknown back then and that are still unknown, that I just felt like I had to make that call in order to live well with that decision 10 years from now when I'm going to be full-time in the medical world.”
Rob Gronkowski reveals key difference between Bill Belichick and Bruce Arians
Gronkowski was asked about the differences in personality between Bill Belichick and Bruce Arians, and the tight end admitted that the two could not be more different in many ways. He also offered a telling comment about what makes playing for the Buccaneers under Arians so much different. Ahead of his first #SuperBowl as a member of the @Buccaneers, tight end @RobGronkowski compared the two head coaches he's had, Bill Belichick and Bruce Arians.#GoBucs | @BruceMurrayNFL | @MarkDominikNFL pic.twitter.
Still, it was a tough decision for Duvernay-Tardif. But he was happy to see the league carry on as itof a full season despite the pandemic.
“Football is probably the only thing that brings people together now these days, and we need that, we need that to help us go through this crisis. That's what sports can do,” Duvernay-Tardif said.
And while the itch to play has arisen a few times this season, the overwhelming support he received for Chiefs coach Andy Reid and his teammates always reinforced he’d made the right choice.
“It means a lot because to be honest, when I made that decision, I felt like I was letting my team down. And I was to a certain extent, you know?” Duvernay-Tardif said. “So feeling the support from coach Reid, from the guys, not only over the phone but also in the media and press conferences, it really means a lot. It's what the team is all about.”
Budweiser becomes latest Super Bowl commercial stalwart to sit out this year's broadcast
Budweiser announced Monday that it will not air a Super Bowl commercial for the first time in 37 years, following similar news from Coke and Pepsi.This year, however, the brand is taking a pass.
Duvernay-Tardif also knows Reid’s support comes from a sincere place since he’s always been understanding and accommodating of Duvernay-Tardif’s medical dreams, which certainly isn’t a given in a sport filled with coaches intent on finding players who are “only” about football.
Gallery: Can you guess how old these 2021 Super Bowl stars and coaches are? (SMG)
“Back in 2014, he was the only coach that, during the pre-draft visit, saw the medical school thing as a cool thing, as a positive thing, and he said he was going to help me and that's really what he did,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “So when I called him and he was like, ‘Yes I support you, I understand what you're what you're trying to accomplish,’ it really meant a lot.”
So after announcing his decision in July, Duvernay-Tardif carried on to a new pattern, a new rhythm without the very sport that has played the pre-eminent role in his life for the past decade.
Since then, he’s spent two to three days a week working with patients at a Quebec long-term care facility, doing everything from changing them to feeding them to putting in IVs and doing blood draws. On the side, he’s also advanced his medical curriculum by starting a master's program in public health at Harvard.
Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo hoping for another head-coaching job
Spagnuolo didn’t pop up in this past cycle, but he could garner attention next time around — especially if he’s able to keep a lid on Tom Brady this Sunday. Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports. Customize your email to get the latest news on your favorite sports, teams and schools. Emailed daily.
Yet it’s Duvernay-Tardif’s experiences in the facility — and the things he’s personally seen — that won’t soon be forgotten.
“When somebody tests positive and you’ve got to rush into their room and basically, like, strip them of their belongings and send them into a red zone, there's some stuff that ... you know the odds that they might not be coming back,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “And it's such a fragile and vulnerable population that you're working with that you also take a big responsibility on making sure that you don't bring the virus in the building. So ... I was never really scared offor myself, but that idea of potentially doing harm to my patient because I exposed myself in the community ... that's something that you've got to live with, too.”
Especially as the COVID situation has been evolving in Quebec. Right now they have a curfew, he said, and he has to be home by 8 p.m. every night, which means he can't really see anybody.
And the apartment he used to rent as a transitional zone, where he could shower and wash his clothes with special soap before going home in order to protect his loved ones from any exposure he might bring home from the facility? That’s gone too.
“Just because I don't see anybody outside of working, and maybe once in a while the family bakery,” said Duvernay-Tardif, who received the first dose of thetwo weeks ago and expects to get the second one within the next month.
Lions host DL David Irving on visit
Bradshaw talks Stafford trade to Rams
Interestingly enough, he could be rejoining the NFL sooner rather than later. He’s stayed in shape, lifting regularly while consulting with a team of nutritionists and trainers.
“I feel pretty good,” Duvernay-Tardif said, “and the good thing too is that I don't have all the impact of a full season on my body. I feel like I'm going to hit this offseason pretty fresh and ready to go.”
So much so that Duvernay-Tardif even went as far to say that he’s focused on getting back to Kansas City next July in the best physical shape possible, even though no one is sure how COVID will affect the NFL’s schedule for the next several months.
“I feel like that's all I can control right now,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “And then when I get there, I’ll try to fight for a job.”
In the meantime, Duvernay-Tardif will enjoy rooting for his friends to finish the journey they started in July on Sunday, when the Chiefs try to beat Tampa Bay to become the first team since the 2004 Patriots to go back-to-back.
“It's one thing to go down there and win the Super Bowl, but to go back for a second year in a row with COVID, with all the uncertainty and I mean, even though we had a good team, you've still got to do it every week for 16 weeks,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “I'm really proud of the guys and I'm going to be rooting for them on Sunday.”
More from Yahoo Sports:
Steelers hire Mike Sullivan as new quarterbacks coach .
In contention for the Jaguars’ quarterbacks coach position, Mike Sullivan will instead land in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are hiring the former Giants and Buccaneers offensive coordinator, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. Sullivan, 53, will replace Matt Canada, who is now the Steelers’ OC. Pittsburgh’s QB coaching role grew in importance recently, with the Steelers giving Dwayne Haskins an opportunity to reboot his career. While Ben Roethlisberger is planning to return for an 18th season, Sullivan will have multiple developmental QBs — Haskins and Mason Rudolph — to mentor.