We love to lionize athletes and entertainers, freely tossing around words like “genius” and “hero,” often largely because they do things we can’t, and wish we could, do. Of course, during times like these, with a global pandemic forcing nearly everyone to reckon with tragedy and fear, we learn what real heroes look like.
The healthcare professionals and other essential workers putting their lives on the line to help others, to help all of us, are truly heroic and selfless, and we owe them all the same reverence we pay our favorite superstars.
Sometimes, those things overlap. Like with Kansas City Chiefs right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who, just a few months ago was playing in – and winning – a Super Bowl. Duvernay-Tardif had already made a name for himself by being the first medical doctor to ever play in the NFL. He was drafted in 2014 and over the next four years, he earned his doctorate in medicine from McGill University in Canada.
He delayed his residency to play professional football, but when COVID-19 struck, he knew he wanted to be there to help. So he found a way. In a newly penned piece of Sports Illustrated, Duvernay-Tardif wrote about his efforts to get involved.
“I fell into a gray area where they didn’t know what to do with me, because I don’t have a license to practice — yet,” Duvernay-Tardif wrote. “In the interim, officials briefed me on an almost daily basis, and I used my platform and credentials to relay their messages.”
Eventually, he was cleared to help with other medical professionals – after receiving a “crash course” on proper sanitizing and getting into a surgical gown, admitting, “That stuff is more important than ever, to protect not only yourself but your patients.”
There’s so much that needs to happen just to visit with every patient — masks donned and hands washed and equipment like gloves and visors tugged on and off and thrown away. I handled a medication cart, making sure to administer the right dosage and in the proper way. Honestly, I was drained after — and looking forward to going back,” Duvernay-Tardif wrote.
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Yes, it’s me in this picture but this is not about me. This is about all the people who have been on the frontlines since day one of this pandemic. Now more than ever we need to work as a team and help where the help is needed. We all must come together and do what is best for society, even if that means stepping out of our comfort zone and learning new things. Thank you to the community of health care workers who welcomed me with open arms and trained me at the Long Term Care Home, some even coming out of retirement to give a helping hand. Thank you Elisa for the PPE training. Thank you Hélène for the elderly mobilisation training. Thank you Jean-Philippe for your help during my first shift as an orderly. Thank you Guylaine for the crash course on how to administer medication to patients. I accepted this opportunity with a lot of pride and humility. I will contribute to the best of my abilities to help: help put a smile on a patient’s face, help give a day off to nurses and orderlies who have been working countless hours since this pandemic started. We can all do our part and it's touching to see so many people of different professional backgrounds coming together to do what they can. We have to keep working as a team and we will get through this. Ça va bien aller 🌈
As of April 24th, the right guard is working as a nurse in Montreal, at a long-term care facility. The man who just won a Super Bowl wrote about the nerves he felt before switching from football to healthcare.
“My first day back in the hospital was April 24,” Duvernay-Tardif wrote. “I felt nervous the night before, but a good nervous, like before a game.”
Here’s hoping the dedicated trailblazer and dual-threat is just as successful off the field as he has been on it.