It was while searching for the McGill University football team over a decade ago that Matthieu Quiviger first met Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the Super Bowl-linked guard who was decidedly banned. to coach the offensive line at the time.
Duvernay-Tardif was then a teenager, originally from the Montreal suburb of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, playing at the Collège André Grasset, much smaller. The coaches there had nothing Quiviger was selling as he scoured the local teams in search of the next best thing.
“Basically they were like, ‘Don’t talk to him, he’s going to med school, he’s not going to play anymore,’ said Quiviger, a former McGill offensive tackle and Canadian Football League alumnus.
But he did play – even as he continued his studies – and on Sunday in Miami, Duvernay-Tardif, 28, will become the first doctor to appear in the Super Bowl. His Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers in the 54th edition of the National Football League Showcase.
Football is a passion, the Canadian told reporters on Super Bowl media day last week. But so was medicine, and he wasn’t going to give up either.
“It was tough for sure, a lot of sacrifice, but in the end it was worth it because now I’m certified (MD) and playing in the Super Bowl,” he said. “What else to ask, you know? ”
When Quiviger first discovered Duvernay-Tardif, some of his relatives tried to dissuade him from continuing to play football at McGill. Duvernay-Tardif spoke French and was already facing the challenge of becoming more fluent in English – he only attended McGill after getting the wrong date on his calendar and missing the entrance exams for all three faculties. of French-speaking medicine in Quebec. Football on top of that could be too much.
But it wasn’t long before the lure of the sport set him back. He started out as a part-time defensive lineman and then was asked to train for a spot on the offensive line. The change put Duvernay-Tardif squarely under Quiviger’s tutelage – a decision the assistant coach was initially opposed to but came after just one practice, much to the disbelief of his fellow coaches.
“I told them (after practice), ‘First of all, if you take it back, I stop because I want to train this guy. Second, he’s going to play in the NFL, ”Quiviger recalled. “All the coaches laughed.
That prediction came true in 2014, when Duvernay-Tardif was drafted in the sixth round by the Chiefs – the 10th player from a Canadian university and the first from Quebec to be selected. The only other McGill player to hear his name was Randy Chevrier, drafted in the seventh round by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2001.
Duvernay-Tardif is expected to become the 16th Canadian-born player to compete in a Super Bowl and the fifth to be part of the starting lineup.
However, no one else with a medical degree has come this far, Canadian or not. He graduated in 2018, after four years of playing in the NFL and returning to Montreal in the offseason to complete the degree.
Closest to the feat is Jean-Philippe Darche, a former Seattle Seahawks and Chiefs long snapper who played nine seasons in the NFL.
Darche played five seasons at McGill, including two while in medical school. He eventually turned pro with the Toronto Argonauts in 1999 before signing with the Seahawks in 2000. However, Darche never graduated from MD at McGill – faced with the option of starting over after taking what was considered too much time for football. However, he later continued his studies in Kansas City. Now, at 44, he’s the Chiefs’ team doctor – and a mentor for Duvernay-Tardif.
McGill’s policies have changed over time since Darche faced his difficult decision, says Scott Delaney, the school team doctor and several local professional teams, including the CFL Alouettes and the Impact of Major League Soccer.
“I think what we’ve achieved with parents who are on paternal leave, in Quebec, you can be on leave for up to two years and come back,” Delaney said. “Usually it’s the mothers who do that and they come out of the park. They leave, they have a child – some are away for a year, others are away for two years – and they come back and they go back to school and they are doing very well. It’s a different time from when (Jean-Philippe) did it… To be absent for four years is perhaps not the end of the world.
Delanay added he wasn’t surprised when Duvernay-Tardif managed to find the balance that got him to where he is today.
“He was just really good at managing time,” Delaney said. “It would be interesting to ask him if he ever went to the movies during his entire stay at McGill, because I don’t know where he would have found the time… He obviously likes the medical field and likes to learn medicine. is not a chore for him.
Duvernay-Tardif made rounds with Delaney when he had the chance. Although he dabbled in sports medicine, however, it was emergency medicine that sparked the NFLer’s interest. He says he hopes to return one day and do his residency in this area.
“Because I want to do emergency medicine and they only take five to six students a year at McGill, that would put too much stress on the rest of the cohort,” he told CNN last week. “We’ll find a way, but I think this year I wanted to focus more on football.”
He doesn’t need the second career for the money – not after signing a five-year, $ 42.36 million (US) contract with the Chiefs in 2017 – but it’s something Delaney can see with follow through.
The desire to help others is also evident in the work of the Laurent Duvernay-Tardif Foundation, which supports the development and educational success of children through physical activity and creativity.
“I tell him that over and over again,” Delaney said. “I say, ‘Right now you are the football player who is also a doctor. Hope you pursue a medical career where people hardly even know you were a football player.
First, he has a Super Bowl up for grabs.
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