Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was drafted into the NFL in 2014 and finished his medical degree in 2018

By Benjamin VanHoose
January 29, 2020 09:40 AM
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A touchdown a day keeps the doctor in play.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a guard for the Kansas City Chiefs, completed his doctor of medicine degree in 2018 at Canada’s McGill University — studying in the offseason as he shined in the NFL the rest of the calendar year.

“I think I want people to see me as one of the best student-athletes in the world,” Duvernay-Tardif, 28, told CNN. “Of course you want to be the best football player. You want to be the best doctor. But to be able to combine both at the highest level … I think that’s my biggest accomplishment.”

Not only is he the first NFL player who’s also a practicing doctor, but on Sunday — when the Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers in Miami — he’ll also become the first medical doctor to play in the Super Bowl.

“When I stepped on that stage at McGill University and got my MD … it was probably the best moment of my life — after the one I’m going to live [on Sunday],” said Duvernay-Tardif.

Born in Montreal, the 6-foot-5 Duvernay-Tardif speaks French and English, and he was drafted into the NFL in 2014 during his third year of medical school.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
| Credit: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
| Credit: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire/Getty

With the go-ahead of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, the athlete finished his classes and clinicals while juggling his professional football duties.

“You look at the stats, and how long is an average career and all that stuff, with studying medicine I didn’t know what was going to happen, but everything turned out great,” Duvernay-Tardif told CNN. “I think Coach Reid is a big part of that too. He understood what I was trying to do with my study. He gave me the chance to balance both.”

He added: “If it was not for him I would have [only] got my MD and I would not be here this week for sure.”

Sharing a graduation photo on Instagram in July 2018, Duvernay-Tardif acknowledged the support system he gets both on the field and in the classroom.

“Because support from the people you love makes all the difference!‬” he captioned the post.

Duvernay-Tardif, who has an interest in emergency health care, told CNN that finishing medical school while still dedicating himself to football was “a grind” with “a lot of sacrifice,” however, “at the end of the day it was worth it.”

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The 49ers will feature another first in Super Bowl history on Sunday. Assistant coach Katie Sowers will become the first female and first openly LGBTQ coach at the big game.

Sowers, 33, is only the second woman to hold a full-time coaching position in the NFL, but she previously told PEOPLE in November that she doesn’t let that define her career.

“When you ask any of the coaches who work with me, often they’ll get asked about working with a female,” she said at the time. “To them, it’s not even something that they think about — and it’s not something that I truly think about. They see me for who I am as a coach, and not a ‘female coach.’”

Super Bowl LIV will be broadcast live from the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. EST on FOX.