Quebec Super Bowl champion Duvernay-Tardif faces different NFL off-seasons

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MONTREAL –
It was a very different off season for Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

It all started with the veteran of the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive linemen who reveled in the glory of the club’s epic Super Bowl 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Not only did it end the 50-year drought in the franchise, it also marked the first time in NFL history that a team had won three games after dropping 10 points or more in only one post-season.

The six-foot-five, 321-pound Duvernay-Tardif then took a two-week sailing vacation in the Caribbean with his girlfriend, Florence Dube-Moreau. But upon his return to Montreal, Duvernay-Tardif had to deal with a quarantine of 14 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NFL has yet to postpone the start of training camps or the regular season. But last month, he ordered the teams to shut down their facilities, and his annual project – slated for April 23-25 ​​- will be a virtual event rather than organized in a public setting.

“Many people have asked me what I would do if there was no OTA, if there was no season,” said Duvernay-Tardif. “For now, let’s worry about this pandemic.

“Honestly, if we get to this point, football is going to be the least of our concerns (because) it’s going to be really bad. It’s much bigger than football. “

When Duvernay-Tardif returned home, he immediately offered to help health officials fight the epidemic. The chief guard obtained a doctorate in medicine and a master’s in surgery from McGill University in 2018.

“I’m in some sort of gray area,” said the seven-year-old NFL veteran. “I have my MD but I don’t yet have a license to practice because I took a year off between my studies and the start of my residency.

“Usually people move from a medical student to a residency program, so it’s hard to help on the front line. We agreed that my best role was to relay information from the public health authorities on social distancing, all hygiene and to stay at home. “

The 29-year-old Mont-St-Hilaire, Quebec native practiced what he preached. Duvernay-Tardif spent much of his forties carpentry, building two tables, two gardens and a changing table from scratch.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to learn, how to work with wood,” said Duvernay-Tardif. “It’s manual work but you have to be very careful and pay attention to details.

“You can’t be impulsive or you will miss an angle, miss a cut, be short or too long. With everything going on and because we don’t know how long we will have to isolate at home, it is important to have a different structure and projects. I think this is true for everyone, especially for children who are currently out of school. We need to find ways to give them ideas and keep them motivated. “

Duvernay-Tardif was attracted to carpentry because it allows him to mentally decompress while solving problems. Abstract pieces of wood must be measured and cut precisely so that they can be assembled to create something functional and durable.

Managing mental challenges also attracted Duvernay-Tardif to sailing. Growing up, Duvernay-Tardif made year-long sailing trips around the Caribbean with his parents and two younger sisters.

“My memories of sailing with my family, one of the things that struck me most, was the different relationship over time,” he said. “You have to travel 25 miles (40 kilometers) and it can take you five hours, but who cares?

“To be honest, taking possession of a 40-foot sailboat on an island that you don’t know about the weather, tides, winds and access to ports, I may have been a little nervous. For me, this is how I decompress, I ‘I have to put my brain to another task. Doing that with the weather and just my girlfriend, it put us in a different mindset and it was great. “

But the COVID-19 pandemic made training difficult and forced Duvernay-Tardif to innovate.

“I ordered weights and bands and got in touch with the Kansas City coaches and they gave me a bunch of workouts and ideas,” he said. “You are just trying to do your best and at the end of the day I think we are all really privileged as professional athletes and not really allowed to complain about training at the moment.

“I feel like I have a rhythm and I have built a training program where I can do whatever I need. I hope it will help me make the transition once we are allowed to go out and train as usual. again. “

Duvernay-Tardif has no problem managing the uncertainty of the 2020 NFL season.

“I think as a professional athlete, you lift, you train, you prepare,” he said.

When football resumes, defending champion chefs will be seen by many as the team to beat. And it’s very good with Duvernay-Tardif.

“I feel like I have a target on my back is a phrase that I have heard often in recent years,” he said. “I know this is the first time (in 50 years) that we have won the Super Bowl but it is the third or fourth time that we have won our division, so for six games out of 16, you have a goal on the back for sure, playing with the (Los Angeles) Chargers, (Las Vegas) Raiders and (Denver) Broncos (all rivals of the AFC West Division).

“You want this challenge of getting everyone’s best shot. After (winning) when you know you got their best shot, it’s the best feeling in the world. “

This season, the Raiders will play in Las Vegas after years spent in Oakland, California, at the Oakland – Alameda County Coliseum.

“It was a stadium that every time you went, you knew it was going to be different,” said Duvernay-Tardif. “I have a picture in my mind of the bus taking it and the fans are going crazy.

“These fans were very vocal, they really applauded their team and hated the other team. I’m curious to see how it goes in Vegas … but playing Oakland was, for sure, one of those games that I felt as a team that it was important that we introduce ourselves. “

This Canadian Press report was first published on April 13, 2020

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