Last July, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif announced he would put his NFL career on hold to work on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For his efforts, the Chiefs guard was recognized by ESPN on Thursday as a finalist for the 2021 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award.
Joining the veteran offensive lineman on the list of candidates are Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Minnesota Lynx guard Layshia Clarendon and WWE wrestler Titus O’Neil.
Duvernary-Tardif, the only active player with a medical doctorate, made headlines last summer when he became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 campaign due to COVID-19.
His decision to do so came after spending the offseason working as an orderly at a long-term care facility in his native Montreal, Quebec. The 29-year-old selflessly joined the fight against the virus less than three months after helping Kansas City win Super Bowl LIV.
At the time of his announcement, Duvernary-Tardif wrote that sitting the season out was “one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my life but I must follow my convictions and do what I believe is right for me personally,” noting that he didn’t want to risk transmitting the virus just so he could play the sport he loves.
Duvernay-Tardif worked in Canada for eight months during the pandemic, while also serving on the NFLPA’s COVID-19 task force. In 2019, he and longtime girlfriend, Florence, created the Laurent Duvernay-Tardif Foundation, an organization that aims to ensure “physical activity and creativity are fundamental factors for children’s development and educational success.”
The ESPN nomination is the latest of a growing list of accolades Duvernay-Tardif has received for his humanitarian work. In December, he was named a co-winner of the 2020 Lou Marsh Award, which is given out annually to Canada’s top athlete. He was also honored as one of Sports Illustrated’s five 2020 Sportspersons of the Year, alongside noted supporter and teammate Patrick Mahomes.
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