The players and coaches of Kansas City's NFL team are standing behind offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who has decided to sit out the upcoming season in order to continue providing front-line care in the fight against COVID-19.
The team's head coach, Andy Reid, told a news conference Saturday that he was proud of the Quebec-born Super Bowl champion.
"I'm a huge Larry Duvernay-Tardif fan. I also was raised by a doctor, so I understand the dedication that it takes to be a doctor. We're all blessed to have doctors in our lives," Reid said.
The 29-year-old from Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., has a medical degree from McGill University, and began working at a long-term care facility in Quebec as an patient attendant in April, less than three months after winning the Super Bowl.
At the time, Quebec's long-term care facilities, known as CHSLDs, were critically understaffed as the coronavirus had spread rapidly throughout the network.
The provincial government was pleading with Quebecers from all walks of life to volunteer in the facilities in order to provide basic care to the residents, many of whom were going long periods without food or water.
Nearly 4,000 people have died in Quebec's CHSLDs because of the virus, and thousands of health-care workers have been infected.
Duvernay-Tardif' has support of teammates too
Reid said the rest of the team also supports Duvernay-Tardif's decision to continue working as a patient attendant.
"The veteran players support him, and the coaches support him. We know ... when the football is over, this is going to be one of the best doctors ever," Reid said.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes said though he was surprised by the decision, he understands why his teammate made the choice he did.
"I know it was difficult for him, but you respect the decision, for him to kind of put his thoughts aside and kind of do what he thought was best to help out his community and the world as he sees it," Mahomes said in a press conference Saturday.
Duvernay-Tardif ultimately decided if he was going to take a COVID-19 related risk, it would be while working with patients, not while playing football, said agent Sasha Ghavami.
"I'm not worried for him. He'll keep in shape and be ready to go back. He is an excellent athlete, and very committed in his approach." Ghavami said.
The 2020 NFL season is currently scheduled to begin September 10.