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Jets OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: 'Now It's Time for a New Journey'

Montreal Native and Medical Professional Opted Out of 2020 Season to Work in HealthCare at Home

Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif on the bench during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021 in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

The Jets' newest player -- offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif -- is multilingual: French, as is befitting a native of Montreal; English, having grown up in a country that is officially bilingual; football; and medicine.

Duvernay-Tardif (6-5, 231) was acquired on Tuesday from the Kansas City Chiefs, who drafted him in the sixth round (the 200th player selected overall) in 2014 for tight end Dan Brown.

"When you look at the way things were going in Kansas City, with me not dressing most of the games, we had an open conversation," he said during a Zoom call on Wednesday. "We had to come to an agreement [he waived his no-trade clause], and I thought this was the best opportunity for me. I'm excited to be here."

After playing for KC when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl in February 2020, and with the coronavirus pandemic beginning to have a global impact, LDT put his Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery degree from McGill University to immediate use. He went to work at a long-term care facility -- CHSLD Gertrude-Lafrance in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.

"When people ask me about it, I don't know where to start," he said. "After the Super Bowl, the pandemic started and I volunteered to work in the long-term care facility. As a health-care professional, I went back to work on the front line."

As the 2020 NFL season approached, LDT, 30, became the first player to opt out of the season. "It was a tough decision, but at the same time after seeing all the sacrifices healthcare workers were making it made more sense for me to stay home and work and help patients to the best of my ability."

Duvernay-Tardif sees himself as a right guard, the spot currently held down by Greg Van Roten, but as Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh has said, the organization always has a place to quality individuals and a need for depth -- particularly on the O-line.

"It's an opportunity to add a Super Bowl champion to the room," Douglas said on Tuesday. "LDT brings that championship pedigree. High-character person. Obviously, very smart guy. Can't wait to get him in here and see him compete."

Though he did not play in his rookie year, LDT made 57 starts for the Chiefs, taking 99% of the team's snaps in 2016 and 2019 (98% in 2018) under coach Andy Reid (whose mother, coincidentally, also graduated from McGill's medical program). After returning to the Chiefs after sitting out, LDT sustained a hand injury in training camp, fracturing the "fifth metacarpal, which is called a boxer's fracture, it's the bone that holds your pinky," he said.

He said that the transaction had been in the works for the past three weeks and that he waived his no-trade clause because: "When I opted out, I promised myself that I'd do all I can to get back on the field. That meant training as hard as you can. But as the season evolved it was also a matter of being in an organization that wants me. For sure the Jets wanted me. It made sense to waive the no-trade clause to be part of an organization that is building something new and different. I want to be part of it."

For his selfless contribution to battling the pandemic, Duvernay-Tardif was named a co-recipient of the Lou Marsh Award, which has been given to Canada's top athletes since 1936. He shared the award with the young soccer star Alphonso Davies, who plays for Bayern Munich in Germany. In addition, Sports Illustrated named him one of its Sportspeople of the Year for his decision to work as an orderly. Finally, last July he was named the recipient of the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award at the ESPYs for opting out and working in healthcare during the pandemic.

"In my mind, the last time I played was in the Super Bowl in Miami," he said. "Now it's time for a new journey and I'm excited to be here."

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