NFL star enrolls at Harvard Chan School and helps tackle the pandemic

This summer, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif had an unusual decision to make: to remain on the Kansas City Chiefs and help the football team defend its Super Bowl title or to step away from the sport and contribute his medical expertise to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duvernay-Tardif is a graduate of McGill University’s medical school and spent nine weeks in the early months of the pandemic working in a long-term care facility in Canada. He is also a professional football player who has played for the Chiefs for six years and served on the National Football League Player Association’s COVID-19 task force.

In a September 9, 2020, Sports Illustrated article, Duvernay-Tardif discussed his decision to put his NFL career on hold and focus his energy on public health and the pandemic. He has enrolled as a student at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and will continue to work at the long-term care facility that he was working at earlier this spring.

“The truth is, if I hadn’t worked in that long-term care facility, I would probably be in Kansas City right now, practicing and grinding though training camp,” Duvernay-Tardif wrote. “Instead, this week I’m starting my studies at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard, online. As much as I benefited from my stint in the facility, the time I worked there did not count toward whatever medical discipline I ultimately will practice. I’m targeting classes in health and social behavior at a population level, nutrition from a global population standpoint, biostatistics and epidemiology.”

Read the Sports Illustrated article: A Lineman’s Choice: To Defend a Super Bowl, or to Fight a Pandemic