Kansas City Chiefs starting right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif made national waves Sunday night when he became the first NFL player to opt out of the NFL season. Rather than play in 2020, Duvernay-Tardif will continue what he started this offseason — working as an orderly in Montreal as hospitals fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid threw his support behind Duvernay-Tardif when he spoke to the Kansas City media on Saturday.
“I’m a huge Larry Duvernay-Tardif fan,” Reid told reporters. “I also was raised by a doctor, so I understand the dedication that it takes to be a doctor — we’re all blessed to have doctors in our lives. They’re givers; they not takers. They’re givers, and they’re healers, so 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’s gonna be, and mainly to the people that he gets to help.
“My heart goes out to him. I had a great talk with him, great visit with him. His players support him. The veteran players support him, and the coaches support him. We understand when football’s over this is gonna be one of the greatest doctors ever.”
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who won a Super Bowl with Duvernay-Tardif as his right guard last season, echoed the head coach.
“You respect his decision,” added Mahomes. “He’s the guy who’s been on those front lines, working with the people that are suffering from COVID day to day and putting in all that time and all that work. He understands it and his decision was he wanted to stay there. He wanted to keep helping in that capacity. I know it was difficult for him, but you respect the decision for him to put his thoughts aside and do what he thought was best to help out his community and the world as he sees it.”
Duvernay-Tardif graduated from McGill University medical school back in June 2018. He has yet to complete his residency but still has learned enough to serve as an orderly.
“They’re not the takers,” Reid said of those in the medical field. “They’re very humble people that want to help you and heal you. Like Larry, they’re not out looking for the pat on the back. They’re doing this or that. They’re not looking for attention. Larry is buried in. He’s not looking to do interviews and all of this stuff. He’s buried in and trying to get the work done that he needs to heal people, and man, what a dedication that is and what a love that is. I’m so happy and proud of him.”
Replacing Duvernay-Tardif won’t be an easy task (he’s had 57 starts for Kansas City since 2015), but as Matt Lane noted this morning, the Chiefs have some strong options.
Third-year Chief Andrew Wylie filled in at right guard for 10 games in 2018 and two games in 2019 and looks to be a candidate. Asked about third-rounder Lucas Niang, Reid brought up veteran Mike Remmers, whom the Chiefs likened to Stefen Wisniewski earlier this offseason.
Regardless of who takes his place, Reid’s message was that the Chiefs feel confident with the choices they have in-house. But that position evaluation won’t happen until the pads come on — something that’s reportedly at least three weeks away.
For now, the Chiefs are just supporting their teammate.
“Everybody that I spoke to, everybody respects the decision 100 percent,” said Mahomes. “Larry’s a guy who loves football, but he also loves his other passions, and being a doctor is extremely important, especially at this time we’re at in this world... I know it’s difficult for him — he wants to be out here with us, he wants to be a part of us. He wants to be a part of the guys. But at the same time, he wants to make sure that he’s doing something to make the world a better place, and I believe that he is doing that. He’s seen it first hand, and he understands that he needs to be in that place now and we’re going to respect it and give him as much support as we can.”