Laurent “Dr. Kill” Duvernay-Tardif, CQ, football player, doctor (born 11 February 1991 in Saint-Jean-Baptiste, QC). Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is an offensive lineman with the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He was the 10th player ever drafted into the NFL from Canadian college and university football, and is the first Quebec-born football player to win a Super Bowl championship. Duvernay-Tardif is also the first active NFL player to become a doctor. He opted out of the 2020 season to work at a Montreal long-term care facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was made a Chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec in 2019. In 2020, he was named a Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated, as well as co-winner (with soccer player Alphonso Davies) of the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year.
Childhood and Family
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was born in Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Quebec, and grew up in nearby Mont-Saint-Hilaire, a small town about 40 km east of Montreal. His paternal grandfather, Guy Tardif, was a former RCMP officer who served as a cabinet minister in Parti Québécois governments.
Laurent’s parents, Guylaine Duvernay and François Tardif, were in the wine business. Laurent played in vineyards as a boy. His parents later opened a craft bakery specializing in baguettes and other breads. In 2020, there were three outlets of Le pain dans les voiles — one in the Montreal neighbourhood of Villeray and two on the South Shore in St-Bruno and Mont-Saint-Hilaire. In the offseason, Duvernay-Tardif sometimes served customers and helped in the bakery.
He has two younger sisters who also have athletic careers. Delphine is a cross-country skier on the Nor-Am Cup circuit. Marilou was a gymnast who became a rower on the Canadian national team in women’s quadruple sculls without coxswain.
In his early teenage years, Duvernay-Tardif was homeschooled by his parents. His family went on two year-long sailing trips along the Atlantic coast and around the Caribbean Sea; first when he was 10 and again when he was 15. His introduction to football came under coach Jacques Foisy of the Pirates du Richelieu, an amateur youth team based in Beloeil. He played for the Pirates for three seasons.
In 2010, Duvernay-Tardif graduated from Collège André-Grasset, a private preparatory college offering French-language instruction. He played for the school’s Phénix football team, a program which had earlier produced long snapper Jean-Philippe Darche, who played professional football with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL), as well as with the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks of the NFL.
Originally interested in engineering, Duvernay-Tardif instead applied to attend four medical schools. After writing the wrong date in his agenda, he missed the interview for the three French-language universities. He was instead accepted by the English-language McGill University.
Fearing his English was not strong enough for medical school, Duvernay-Tardif decided not to play sports so he could focus on his studies. After a month, he realized he had made a mistake; he asked McGill football head coach Clint Uttley if he could join the team.
As a freshman at McGill, Duvernay-Tardif dressed for six of nine games and had three starts as a defensive lineman. By his sophomore season, he had added 27 lb and weighed 280 lb; he was switched to the offensive line as a tackle. “It’s more strategic,” he said, “and less aggressive.” He started in all nine games while also playing on the defensive line — a rare two-way player in the modern era. He did not miss a start in his sophomore, junior and senior years for a string of 26 consecutive regular season starts, despite suffering a torn labrum in his left shoulder in his final season. He established himself as one of the all-time best athletes to have played Canadian university football.
When he showed up for practice one day still wearing hospital scrubs, his teammates nicknamed him “Dr. Kill.” When not at practice or studying game film, Duvernay-Tardif worked on improving his English at a restaurant across the street from the family bakery. He was helped by a bilingual waitress named Florence Dubé-Moreau, who was studying art history at the Université du Québec à Montréal. The pair began a long-term romantic relationship.
Duvernay-Tardif was one of only two Canadian players invited to the 2014 East-West Shrine Game in Florida. His performance against the best American college football players caught the attention of scouts. The CFL Scouting Bureau ranked him the top prospect in the country. However, Duvernay-Tardif declined an invitation to the league’s combine camp. He instead held his own one-day workout in Montreal, which attracted scouts from four CFL and nine NFL teams.
Professional Football Career
In May 2014, the day after he had assisted in an emergency caesarian birth of twins, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round, No. 200 overall, of the 2014 NFL draft. He was only the 10th player ever drafted into the NFL from Canadian Interuniversity Sport (now known as U Sports). He was expected to report to the team the next day, so he had to get last-minute permission from the dean of the medical school to reschedule his hospital rotations.
In 2017, the 6-foot-5, 321-lb (198-cm, 145-kg) Duvernay-Tardif signed a five-year, US$42.36 million contract extension, including a guaranteed US$20.2 million. In 2018, he suffered a broken left fibula in a Week 5 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He missed the rest of the season.
On 2 February 2020, the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31–20 in Super Bowl LIV before 62,417 spectators at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. Duvernay-Tardif’s parents and girlfriend were in attendance and joined him for on-field celebrations after the game.
DID YOU KNOW?
Duvernay-Tardif is the first Quebec-born player to help his team win the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl champions. But he was not the first player from the province to win an NFL title. Montreal-born Paul Duhart played for the champion Green Bay Packers in 1944, 23 years before the inaugural Super Bowl.
Duvernay-Tardif opted out of the 2020 NFL season to work at a Montreal long-term care facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. He returned to Kansas City for the 2021 season but broke a bone in his hand at training camp. He didn’t play his first game of the season until after being traded to the New York Jets for tight end Dan Brown on 2 November 2021. In late December, Duvernay-Tardif was one of 19 Jets players to test positive for COVID-19. He cleared health and safety protocols a week later.
Duvernay-Tardif took two years of pre-medical studies at CEGEP before entering medical school at McGill. He graduated in 2018 with a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and a Master of Surgery (CM). At the ceremony, he wore a white lab coat with “DR DUVERNAY-TARDIF” and his football uniform No. 76 stitched on the back.
In early 2020, amid the growing crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, Duvernay-Tardif, who plans on one day specializing in emergency medicine, announced he would be opting out of the 2020 NFL season to work as an orderly at a long-term care facility in Montreal.
Duvernay-Tardif and Dubé-Moreau are the president and vice-president, respectively, of the LDT Foundation. It encourages children aged 10 to 12 to find a balance among sports, arts, and academic studies.
Honours and Awards
In 2013, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif won the J.P. Metras Trophy as the outstanding lineman in Canadian university football. He also won the Stuart Forbes Trophy as McGill University’s male athlete of the year in 2014 and received several academic awards. In 2019, he was named a Chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec.
Even though he opted out of the 2020 NFL season, Duvernay-Tardif was named co-winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year for his role in Kansas City’s Super Bowl championship, and for his contributions to medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic. He shared the award with soccer player Alphonso Davies. Duvernay-Tardif was also named one of five Sportspersons of the Year for 2020 by Sports Illustrated magazine.
In November 2020, Duvernay-Tardif’s lab coat and medical scrubs were placed on display in a gallery at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. In 2021, Duvernay-Tardif received the National Hero Honour from Canada’s Walk of Fame.