11 weeks ago, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif helped his Kansas City Chiefs claim the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl 54. Now, the guard is trying to block something far more daunting than the San Francisco 49ers' defensive line -- COVID-19.
Duvernay-Tardif, the NFL's only active medical school graduate, is working at a long-term care facility in his native Quebec, Canada. To prepare for his return to hospital work last month, he took a "crash course" on everything from putting a surgical gown on to sanitation, but that still didn't calm the nerves associated with a virus affecting the entire globe.
"I felt nervous the night before," Duvernay-Tardif told Sports Illustrated, "but a good nervous, like before a game, and I packed everything neatly: scrubs, white coat, extra pens, even a second pair of shoes that I could leave in my locker, knowing they were clean."
Before working on the front lines of the pandemic, Duvernay-Tardif promoted social-distancing measures to Montreal's young adults through social media and public service announcements. Shortly after, though, Canada's health ministry announced it needed the help of additional health-care professionals – even students or those without fulfilled residency requirements like Duvernay-Tardif.
Duvernay-Tardif sprang into action and applied, landing a position at a long-term care facility in Montreal. Because he doesn't have a license to practice medicine, Duvernay-Tardif told the AP he's handling duties nurses usually do such as delivering medication. Still, the McGill University product -- for both his undergraduate and medical degrees -- and six-year NFL veteran is happy to contribute, even if his presence raises the eyebrows of his new coworkers.
"One of the people training me turned and said, 'You're the football player, right?'" Duvernay-Tardif said. "When I answered yes, he said, 'Bro, you just won the Super Bowl.' 'Indeed,' I told him, and now I just want to help."
Quebec needs as much help as it can get. As of Saturday, Canada has a confirmed 55,572 total COVID-19 cases and 3,446 deaths. Quebec alone accounts for more than half of those figures with 28,648 total cases and 2,022 deaths, respectively.