Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out of the 2020 NFL season to work on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with the pandemic slowly becoming more under control, LDT plans to return for the 2021 season.
Duvernay-Tardif opted out to combat the Coronavirus pandemic shortly after the Chiefs’ Super Bowl parade following their championship in February of 2020. He worked as an orderly in a long-term care facility in his hometown of Montreal as they struggled to find enough doctors and nurses to fight the pandemic.
Now, after a year away from the football field to work in the medical field, Duvernay-Tardif has said he’ll be returning to the Chiefs in 2021 as he begins to “transition back into football.”
Here’s what Duvernay-Tardif wrote in the above Instagram post:
A year ago, I was trading my football helmet and pads for a hospital gown and a pair of gloves. This experience changed me in a way that I never thought would be possible. I met extraordinary people that made so many sacrifices and took care of our vulnerable ones with so much passion and dedication. Those nurses, orderlies and doctors made me realize the difference between treating and caring for patients. It’s now time for me to transition back into football but there is no doubt that those 10 months working part-time in a long term care facility will help me become a better physician. Thank you all for your sacrifices and your hard work.
As Duvernay-Tardif returns to the game, he’ll be joining a revamped Chiefs offensive line for the 2021 season and a likely competition with veteran guards Kyle Long and Andrew Wylie. Judging by his other Instagram posts, Duvernay-Tardif has been staying in shape in his time away from the game.
Following his decision to opt out, Duvernay-Tardif wrote about his choice in his own words, as told to Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop.
I put out a statement as the news of who opted out spread across the NFL. I want to be clear here. My goal was never to oppose the Chiefs, the league or my teammates. I’m not trying to convince anyone else that they should sit out this season. I realize my circumstances could not be more unique. I hope that the public realizes that those very circumstances must inform my decision not to play in 2020, that I can’t ignore my life in medicine.
It’s weird to say this, but I miss camp. I’ve been following on Instagram, and every time I see tight end Travis Kelce laughing and cracking jokes, I want to hop on a plane and fly to Kansas City. I miss the guys. I miss the contact. But I also know I made, for me, the right decision.
Duvernay-Tardif was among SI’s Sportsperson of the Year winners, highlighting this work on the front lines. Dr. Jenny Thompson wrote about Duvernay-Tardif’s choice and how it led to the Sportsperson of the Year honor.
As one of few Canadians to win an NFL title, a key protector of MVP QB Patrick Mahomes and the starting right guard on a burgeoning dynasty in Kansas City, Laurent was already a sports hero. But it’s like he could see that now, more than ever, our society needs medical heroes, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re the one making decisions in the intensive care unit, or you’re giving orderlies and nurses a much-needed break. He’s more of a hero now than he ever would be on the field.
From the front lines of the pandemic to the offensive line of the Chiefs, LDT’s return will bring a familiar face to the new-look o-line and will complete a tremendous full-circle journey for one of the NFL’s best.