By Ken Reed
The Kansas City Chiefs have a true hero on their team but he won’t be in Tampa for the Super Bowl.
Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out of this season so he could care for sick patients during the Covid crisis at a long-term care hospital facility in his native Montreal.
Duvernay-Tardif earned a medical degree while becoming a starter on the Chiefs’ offensive line. When the pandemic hit, he wanted to help a medical system in crisis. He called Canadian health authorities and they sent him to help at Gertrude-Lafrance, a long-term care hospital which treats mostly elderly patients, many of whom have been stricken with Covid-19.
At first, Duvernay-Tardif thought he was still going to play football this season, thinking the pandemic would be under control by the fall. But as training camp neared, he felt the right thing to do was to follow the instincts of his medical training and help people struggling during a public health crisis. He told the Chiefs he was sitting out this season.
“If I am to take risks,” he wrote in a statement, “I will do it caring for patients.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid offered his support.
“It’s tremendous dedication to his profession … and mainly to the people that he gets to help,” said Reid.
Duvernay-Tardif believes he made the right choice but he’s had many days when he wondered. He misses football greatly, especially now that his teammates are back in the Super Bowl.
“I am excited for us,” he wrote in a text message. “It’s just a strange feeling to see your team get closer and closer to repeat the achievement.”
But he knows his long-term calling is in medicine, not in the game of football. He believes his experiences at Gertrude-Lafrance this past year have made him a better doctor.
And his admiration for the doctors, nurses and orderlies on the front lines of this pandemic has grown exponentially. He knows that real heroes where scrubs, masks and shields, not shoulder pads and helmets.
“I have so much respect for them. … The amount of sacrifice is unbelievable,” said Duvernay-Tardif.
Duvernay-Tardif and his medical colleagues across Canada, the United States and the world deserve a moment of reflection, and a mental salute, from all of us at some point during the Super Bowl.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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