Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is closing the door on his football career.
The veteran offensive lineman announced his retirement Thursday after eight NFL seasons. The 32-year-old from Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., spent six campaigns with the Kansas City Chiefs (2014-19) before finishing up with the New York Jets (2021-22).
“I’ve had the chance to play in the NFL for nine years and even today, I sometimes can’t believe I was able to experience this adventure,” Duvernay-Tardif said on social media. “Being a professional athlete is a privilege as well as an extremely enriching human and personal experience.
“The victories, losses and injuries have all been moments to learn how to win and lose as a team while managing a wide range of emotions.”
The Chiefs selected Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL draft out of McGill University. He was already in medical school when Kansas City came calling and initially played football during the NFL season, then spent his off-season continuing his medical studies.
Duvernay-Tardif earned his medical degree from McGill in 2018. He also helped the Chiefs win a Super Bowl title in 2019 (31-20 over San Francisco). But he opted out of the 2020 season to volunteer at a Quebec long-term care facility during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic’s first wave.
On Thursday, Duvernay-Tardif paid tribute to Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, whose mother also earned a medical degree from McGill.
“In 2014, I had the honour of being drafted by Coach Reid,” Duvernay-Tardif wrote. “He as probably one of the only NFL coaches who positively viewed my desire to complete my medical school studies at McGill while playing football.
“Since the beginning, he showed his willingness to support me throughout my seven years with the organization. He believed that a player must flourish off the field to perform on the field. Being able to count on that kind of leadership was an incredible opportunity for me.
“Thank you to my teammates and staff of the Chiefs, Jets and McGill for supporting me in this journey.”
Duvernay-Tardif was widely recognized for his decision to put his football career on hold. He was a co-recipient of the 2020 Northern Star Award (then the Lou Marsh Trophy) as Canada’s top athlete and named ESPN’s Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian of the Year, as well as one of Sports Illustrated’s 2020 Sportspersons of the year.
He also served on the NFL Players’ Association’s COVID-19 task force.
Duvernay-Tardif returned to Kansas City the following year expecting to battle for his spot. But he suffered a broken hand during training camp that sidelined him for a month.
When Duvernay-Tardif became healthy, he was inactive as rookie Trey Smith, a 2021 sixth-round draft pick, had become the Chiefs’ starting right guard. In November, Duvernay-Tardif waived his no-trade clause, allowing Kansas City to deal him to the Jets for tight end Daniel Brown.
Duvernay-Tardif played 13 games over two seasons with New York.
Duvernay-Tardif started 57-of-60 career games with Kansas City. He made his first NFL start in 2015.
Following the 2017 campaign, Duvernay-Tardif signed a five-year, US$41.25 million extension with the Chiefs. Despite that deal, Duvernay-Tardif steadfastly maintained it was always his intention to complete his studies and become a full-time doctor.
While he might be done with football, Duvernay-Tardif still has plenty going on. He’s active in his foundation and still has residency requirements in his pursuit to become a full-time doctor.