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MONTREAL — It’s been almost a year since Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif made the decision to put his NFL career on hold. He was the first player in the NFL to opt out of the 2020 NFL season.

That decision came just weeks after the Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in 50 years. He didn’t attend the Chiefs ring ceremony, so the Chiefs mailed him his ring.

Duvernay-Tardif missed a season that was like no other, with daily COVID-19 testing for players, coaches and staff, uncertain schedules, and fewer fans in stadiums. He also missed the Chiefs chance to repeat as Super Bowl Champs, instead watching the game on TV like the rest of us.

After a year that was like no other, both on and off the football field, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif said he’s ready to trade in his face shield, hospital gown and gloves, for a football helmet and pads.

“This experience changed me in a way that I never thought would be possible,” Duvernay-Tardif in a post on his Instagram page. “I met extraordinary people that made so many sacrifices and took care of our vulnerable ones with so much passion and dedication. Those nurses, orderlies and doctors made me realize the difference between treating and caring for patients.”

Duvernay-Tardif spent 10 months working in a long term care facility near Montreal. In his Instagram post, he wrote that the experience will help him become a better physician.

He didn’t play a snap for the Chiefs last season, but was named one of five Sports Illustrated’s 2020 Sportsperson of the year, and a co-winner of the 2020 Lou Marsh Award, which is given out annually to Canada’s top athlete. 

The Football Hall of Fame also displayed his scrubs and lab coat to honor his dedication to both his medical career and football career.

Duvernay-Tardif’s Instagram page is filled with pictures showing the inside of the care facility where he worked to prevent the spread of COVID-19, that includes pictures with his coworkers decked out in Chiefs gear.

Duvernay-Tardif graduated from McGill University Faculty of Medicine in May 2018 with a Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery. He also spent his year away from the NFL taking online classes at Harvard.