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Duvernay-Tardif puts humanity before football

Columnist Bruce Penton writes about Laurent Duvernay-Tardif's decision to skip the 2020 NFL season
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Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is the poster boy for the definition of the word ‘selfless.’

The Quebecker, a starting guard with last February’s Super Bowl winning Kansas City Chiefs, is also on the verge of becoming a full-fledged medical doctor. So while COVID-19 rages around the world, what does Duvernay-Tardif do as National Football League teams get ready for training camp? He takes a $150,000 payment from the Chiefs (instead of his $2.75 million salary) and opts to skip the 2020 season, preferring to stay in Quebec and be a front-line medical specialist in the fight against the deadly pandemic.

Besides being a doctor, Duvernay-Tardif is one of the best football players on the planet. He’s 29 years old, which means his playing days are limited (the average NFL tour of duty lasts less than four years), but he’s living up to the Hippocratic Oath: Put patients first and treat them to the best of one’s ability.

Definition of ‘selfless’? Look it up in Webster’s Dictionary and not only will you see a photo of Duvernay-Tardif, but you’ll see the following words: “Having little or no concern for oneself, especially with regard to fame, position, money, etc.; unselfish.”

A statement on social media posted by Duvernay-Tardif said: “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,” his statement read. “Being at the front line during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system.”

So was Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid fuming with anger over the decision by Duvernay-Tardif, who played every offensive snap in last year’s playoffs for Kansas City? Far from it. Reid told Sports Illustrated: "I’m a huge Larry Duvernay-Tardif fan, and I was also raised by a doctor. I understand the dedication that it takes to be a doctor, and we’re all blessed to have doctors in our lives. They’re givers. They’re not takers. They’re givers. They’re healers. They want the best for you, so Larry has that quality. And you’re seeing it to the utmost here. I just think it’s tremendous dedication to his profession, what his future is going to be, and mainly to the people that he gets to help.”

Duvernay-Tardif said if he’s going to risk coming down with COVID-19, he’d rather it be while treating patients than from a football rival breathing hard in his direction on an NFL scrimmage line.

Proud to say it: The footballer’s decision is such a Canadian thing to do.

  • Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Lakers reserve guard Alex Caruso skipped his sister’s wedding in Texas because he would’ve likely faced a 10- to 14-day quarantine upon his return to the NBA bubble. In other words, she said I do; he said I won’t.”
  • Janice Hough of, on Texas delaying the start of major high-school football seasons: “In Texas this is like temporarily closing churches.”
  • Tim Hunter of Everett’s KRKO Radio: “As a soccer fan, I had a scary thought. What if we get to the end of 2020 and we’re then told there are six months of stoppage time?”
  • Sean McIndoe, in the Athletic, surmising how a decision may have been made about how the Columbus Blue Jackets were named: “As if a toddler was asked to name a team based on the first thing he saw on the floor in his front hallway.”
  • McIndoe again, on the Mighty Ducks name: “You let a monster media company like Disney into your league, and they thank you by using their team name to advertise a bad movie. … worst team name ever.”
  • RJ Currie of “The Jays released left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski. He was hampered by a high pitch count and a low vowel count.”
  • Headline in “Rob Manfred Frustrated MLB Season Falling Apart Despite All The Energy He Put Into Wishing It Wouldn’t”
  • Another headline: “Closed ballpark forces thousands of Phillies fans to be content verbally threatening friends and family.”
  • Dwight Perry again: “Several Saskatchewan kid-hockey teams changed their team names, withheld player names on game rosters and forbid parents to post on social media so that they could leave the province in the midst of a pandemic to play in a tournament in Winnipeg, the CBC reported. Nervous team officials sense a delayed penalty coming.”
  • Another one from Janice Hough, on the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo giving the Brewers’ Orlando Arcia some hand sanitizer after Arcia wound up at first base with a hit: “Talk about a clean single.”
  • Brewers slugger Christian Yelich, to, shrugging off his 2-for-23 showing with 12 strikeouts in his team’s preseason intrasquad games: “I wasn’t struggling. I was just doing my best Bob Uecker impression.”

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