It was less than a week ago when a 6-foot-5, 321-pound man with a bushy ear-to-ear beard was hustling around the trauma center of a Montreal hospital.
In his three weeks — 15 shifts — working in the Canadian hospital, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif inched closer to finishing medical school at McGill University in Montreal and becoming Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. But as he was engulfed by media outside Scanlon Hall at Missouri Western a day away from the start of training camp, Duvernay-Tardif was just the Chiefs’ starting right guard.
He traded out his lab coat and scrubs for a red t-shirt and a backward cap. For the next six months, one of his goals — to become a doctor — will sit on hold while he chases the other.
“After the Super Bowl,” Duvernay-Tardif continued after a laugh, “I’ll go back to Canada, and I’ll finish my four more months of med school, and then I’m a doctor.”
In his third training camp, the 10th player ever drafted from Canadian college is still learning how to play, what Duvernay-Tardif calls, American football. It’s still a little weird to him that there’s 11, not 12, players on the field. He’s never going to get used to the heat, but he did some spin classes in a sauna in hopes it would help.
Most of all, with a full year as a starter under his belt, he’s still trying to learn how to be a vocal leader of sorts. But these few weeks are his chance to form relationships with rookies, including Parker Ehinger, who likley will be starting at the opposite guard spot this season, and teach them why camp is so important.
“I’m telling them: it’s probably the most difficult experience mentally and physically to go through,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “Over the next six weeks, the team is just going to get together, and we’re going to be ready to start the first match of the season.”
Two years ago, he was trying to find his way in the NFL as a sixth-round rookie who sometimes fumbled over his English — French is his first language — expected to only be a reserve as a raw offensive lineman.
“I had to learn a lot about American football,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “I’ve learned a lot, and being able to play last year a lot really helped me.”
His spot on the line now is virtually locked up. But even as a veteran who has been through this camp twice and learned so much, he still has put some sort of emphasis into this camp, and continue to earn his starting role.
For the time being, on the small college campus in St. Joseph, no more thoughts of medical school — just football.
“I just closed that (medical) deal a week ago,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “Now my focus is on football.”