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KC Chiefs lineman returns after year of serving in medical field

Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, an offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs, announced last weekend that he will return to the football field this fall. He made national headlines last season when he stayed out of football to help with health care during the pandemic in his native Canada.

Duvernay-Tardif, who graduated from McGill University School of Medicine in 2018, was the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season, but as the first medical doctor to play in the NFL, his reasons were decidedly different.

“This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my life, but I must follow my convictions and do what I believe is right for me personally,” he said at the time

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While he officially is Dr. Duvernay-Tardif, he still must complete his residency requirements. Until that is complete, his medical responsibilities were somewhat limited but still helpful as hospitals and facilities across the country faced shortages of qualified medical staff

He also used his time away from the team to further his education, studying nutrition, biostatistics and epidemiology in online classes at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His special Chiefs logo medical scrubs and lab coat are on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

While the 2020 Chiefs team was preparing for Super Bowl LV, Duvernay-Tardif announced his intention to return to the team in 2021. He said in his Instagram post that now is the time.

“A year ago, I was trading my football helmet and pads for a hospital gown and a pair of gloves,” he said “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.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice