Tuesday, March 21, 2023

DuVernay-Tarif, Athlete Who Turned NFL to Drug After Fighting Covid

Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, Number 72 For The Jets, Defended Zach Wilson In A Game Against New Orleans Last December.
Laurent DuVernay-Tardiff, number 72 for the Jets, defended Zach Wilson in a game against New Orleans last December.Adam Hunger ( Associated Press)

It’s hard for professional athletes to say no to the NFL, the American football league, one of the most popular and highest paid in the United States. The 31-year-old player Laurent DuVernay-Tarif has done it more than once. The most recent denial came a few days ago, when the New York Jets’ offensive lineman told the press that, at the moment, he does not plan to return in the fall for the new season. The Reason? Canadians have chosen their medical careers, an unusual outlet for athletes in this category. DuVernay-Tardiff will be tested at a hospital in Montreal with the idea of ​​becoming a doctor from July.

“I’m going to prioritize medicine … we’ll see what happens in September,” DuVernay-Tarif told The Associated Press last Wednesday. “After eight years in the NFL, and I don’t want to show off, but I feel like I’ve earned the right to do what’s best for me and not just for football, it’s time to bet a little bit on myself. is,” he added. In 2018, the athlete became the first active NFL player to earn a medical degree. In March, he became a free agent, which allows him to negotiate his contract with any team. He did not say with whom he might return to the court, although he did assure that he has offers from the four franchises.

DuVernay-Tarif is not just any player. In February 2020 he rose to the top of the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs after winning Super Bowl 54. His job was to save Patrick Mahomes during the offense, who came from behind to beat San Francisco in a thrillingly disputed final in Miami that night. He is one of 13 Canadian players to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

In that game for the title in Miami, DuVernay-Tarif first heard about the coronavirus, which had already been causing chaos in several Asian cities for several months. The pandemic hit the most important victory of his career as a professional athlete. “I was disappointed. My events, my foundation events, my press interviews were being canceled. But I thought this whole thing was so big of me that I couldn’t celebrate winning the Super Bowl,” he said in April 2020 Told.

With the new season in doubt, DuVernay-Tarif decided she wanted to be part of the solution. His supervisor told him not to leave his building in Montreal because he could become infected and put his contract at risk, but the athlete decided to take a chance and put into practice what he had learned at McGill University Medical School. brought. He began working at a public hospital in the city, where he covered shifts as a stretcher bearer and nurse’s assistant, which was somewhat easier for a 1.95-metre, 145-kilogram man. The player said, “There was a fight in the world… I would have felt like a coward if I hadn’t done anything.”

It was nine weeks that changed his life. Most of the patients he treated were in their 80s. “These were the people who had not seen their family in 10 weeks because they were locked in their rooms. The only interaction between them was with people like us, with masks, gloves and caps. The most important thing was to communicate with him, to maintain his dignity and for him to be most optimistic, something very difficult”, he later explained to the press.

The player surprised everyone in the summer of 2020, when he announced that he would not return to the league to defend the championship. “I have seen with my own eyes that there is a lack of toilets, I have seen people getting sick and dying. I do not see how to continue with my affairs and football now. It’s messy because I love football, but it’s a price to follow my beliefs and do what I think is the right thing to do,” DuVernay-Tarif said at the time.

His decision was made. And this was appreciated by his colleagues. “It shows a tremendous dedication to his profession,” said legendary NFL coach Andy Reid, who won a historic fourth quarter win against San Francisco, where he scored 21 points. Patrick Mahomes, the author of that feat, also dedicated words to his companion’s heroism: “It would be difficult for him not to be here with us, but at the same time he wants to make the world a better place.” Her work as a health activist earned her the Lou Marsh Award, which recognizes the most outstanding Canadian athletes each year, and Muhammad Ali, which honors athletes for their social service.

DuVernay-Tarif never wore the Chiefs jersey again. He tried to stay in shape in his Montreal apartment by lifting weights and studying his team’s playbook. All this when he was not in the hospital, a day that started early in the morning and went on till three in the afternoon. He returned to Kansas in late 2021, but a broken arm in training separated him from the first team and was transferred to New York, where he played seven of the eight games he was available for.

His future as a professional is uncertain at the moment. However, he has made it clear that he is not retiring from the court yet. “I’m comfortable with the risk. And I’m sure there will be an offer on the screen in September. I’ll take it if I want to. If the therapy goes well and I think I’ll be asked to play that game in front of 80,000 spectators Go to the one I love, then I’ll go. But I want it to be on my terms”, DuVernay-Tardiff said.

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