Laurent Duvernay-Tardif prepares for Super Bowl, embraces support from Quebec, Canada
MONTREAL -- As Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif prepares for the Super Bowl, he said he tries to stay away from the news.
The Quebecer has gained international acclaim thanks to his ability to play football at the highest level and maintain a critical side-gig: he's a medical doctor.
In Montreal, where Duvernay-Tardif attended university -- at McGill University -- newspapers (and this station) have focussed their NFL coverage on him: Who won the AFC championship game on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl? Laurent Duvernay-Tardif did. ... Oh, and the Kansas City Chiefs, too.
Despite his efforts to ignore all that news, he has felt the support coming his way from Montreal and all of Quebec, he said in a conference call out of Kansas City on Tuesday.
"This is real; people are behind it," he said. "I'm really grateful for that."
The 28-year-old from Mont-Saint-Hilaire recognized that when he steps onto the field in Miami on Feb. 2 as one of the first Quebecers to do so, the eyes of a country will be on him.
"It's really a privilege, and it does represent a lot for everybody on the team, but also for the city of Kansas City and Montreal and Canada and just to feel all those people behind us really gives us the energy to go through those last two weeks and give everything we've got," he said.
The Super Bowl is an event like no other, Duvernay-Tardif said. The media frenzy that will greet the team in Miami is sure to be like nothing he's seen before. It's important not to let the gravity of the event get the better of him, he said.
"I think in three weeks from now I'm probably going to take a minute for myself and just look back on this journey that just happened and realize how crazy it was. But right now, my job is just to focus on the gameplan and getting ready for the 49ers," he said.
The AFC Championship win over the Tennesee Titans felt good, especially after last year's overtime loss to the New England Patriots, but the Chiefs have their work cut out for them in the San Francisco 49ers, Duvernay-Tardif said.
Duvernay-Tardif is a guard. He's tasked with protecting the Chiefs' star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, from the 49ers' elite pass-rushing squad.
It won't be an easy task, Duvernay-Tardif admitted, but, if he and his teammates can give Mahomes time, the young quarterback and reigning league MVP can pick apart any coverage, find a receiver and make a big play.
As much as he wants the win the Super Bowl for himself, Duvernay-Tardif said he wants to bring home a victory for his coach, Andy Reid, who gave him the chance to play elite-level football while juggling his goal of becoming a doctor. Reid is a decorated NFL coach but has yet to take home the league's most coveted prize as a head coach.
Reid understood what he wanted to do and supported him, Duvernay-Tardif said.
"If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have been able to do it so I'm really grateful."
The Super Bowl kicks off at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 2.