You may have seen Laurent Duvernay-Tardif on the news in the last few weeks. He is a 29-year-old offensive lineman on the Kansas City Chiefs football team. Back in February, he helped that franchise earn their first Super Bowl rings in 50 years.
What makes him newsworthy now is that between games and seasons, Larry managed to complete a medical degree. These days, the man many teammates call ‘Doc’ can be found on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, working in a long-term care facility in his native Montreal.
Last month, he became the first NFL player to voluntarily opt out of the upcoming season. He will remain where he is, even if it means giving up a $2.6 million salary. “There are going to be bigger issues than not playing football,” he said recently. “If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”
We were intrigued enough to dig a little deeper into Duvernay-Tardif’s background. It was a surprise to find that perhaps the seminal experience of his life was a yearlong cruise in 2003 with his parents and two younger sisters on their 30-ft boat from Montreal to the Caribbean, with lots of stops on the East Coast. Larry was 12 at the time.
“My dad gave me a lot of responsibility,” he recalled in a Sports Illustrated article back in April. He took part in all aspects of sailing, steering, navigating and maintenance. He also learned a lot about people. “We fished, traveled from community to community, met all of these new people, and experienced so many different cultures,” he says.
“Those experiences really defined me as a man.”