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Laurent Duvernay-Tardif dedicates Lou Marsh trophy to health-care workers

Super Bowl champion and Kansas City Chiefs player Laurent Duvernay-Tardif poses next to an ice sculpture of the Vince Lombardi trophy during an event to celebrate his win in Montreal, Sunday, February 9, 2020. It's certainly been a different off-season for Canadian guard Duvernay-Tardif, once basking in the glory of the Chiefs' Super Bowl victory and now dealing with the challenges and uncertainty presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive lineman and Montreal doctor Laurent-Duvernay-Tardif wasn’t done celebrating being chosen one of Sports Illustrated’s persons of the year when, less than 48 hours later, another award came knocking at his door: the Lou Marsh trophy for Canada’s athlete of the year.

He was voted co-winner along with Bayern Munich’s soccer star Alphonso Davies in a rare tie, the third in the 82-year history of the award presented annually by the Toronto Star.

“I think that as a Canadian athlete winning this prize, this distinction is by far is the greatest sports homage I can receive. I’m truly honoured,” Duvernay-Tardif told reporters at a virtual press conference.

Read more: Canadian NFL star Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opts out of 2020 season

Duvernay-Tardif won the Super Bowl as a starter with the Chiefs at the beginning of the year but he didn’t return to play in the new season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, choosing to opt out and trade the football field for the front lines in his hometown, Montreal.

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“In the context of the pandemic, to give such an award for sports accomplishments but also for sacrifices done outside the field, I think it’s a beautiful combination,” Duvernay-Tardif explained.

“We’re a good duo to be at the image of what the Lou Marsh award is about but no, I’m not pretending to be a better athlete than Alphonso Davies, far from that,” he said while laughing.

Duvernay-Tardif says that when he made the decision not to play with the Kansas City Chiefs back in July, he did not know what the road ahead would look like for him.

“It’s crazy to see four months later, all the big prizes and recognitions for athletes on or off the field are considering me in the nominations, it’s really touching,” he said.

Read more: Super Bowl champ Laurent Duvernay-Tardif recognized by Hall of Fame for fight against COVID-19

For Duvernay-Tardif, leaving his NFL teammates was not an easy choice, but he says one worth making.

“The last thing I would’ve wanted as a health professional is to regret not having contributed during a time when we had so much need for health-care staff in the front lines,” the offensive line back said.

“To get those two major awards within the last 48 hours has been an amazing feeling to be honest because it kind of justifies your actions and your sacrifices.”

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Click to play video: 'Montreal doctor and Super Bowl champion returns home' Montreal doctor and Super Bowl champion returns home
Montreal doctor and Super Bowl champion returns home – Feb 9, 2020

In the same breath, Duvernay said he wasn’t the only one making sacrifices and said it was important to acknowledge all the health-care workers who have been on the frontlines.

“I’m accepting this award in their name for sure,” he said.

Read more: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to study at Harvard while working at Quebec long-term care home

Duvernay-Tardif is currently working two to three days in hospital. He divides the rest of his time between studying for his masters degree in Public Health at Harvard University and training on his rooftop with trainers via Zoom.

He says he’s planning to return to the NFL in 2021.

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