Laurent Duvernay-Tardif never thought he’d be working at an Olympics.
“I don’t think football is going to be at the Olympics any time soon,” he quipped.
When he was young, the Chiefs’ right guard from Canada quit the only Olympic sport in which he participated, cross-country skiing, because it was way too tough.
“I was never good at it to ever see myself at the Olympics,” he said. “It was too hard for me.”
It stood to reason that if anyone in the Duvernay-Tardif family was going to be at an Olympics, it would be his two sisters, Marilou and Delphine, who compete in rowing and cross-country skiing, respectively.
“I’m sure they’re going to be at the Olympics one day as athletes,” he said.
But the 6-foot-5, 321-pound lineman found another way to get to the Winter Games this month: as a reporter for Radio-Canada. In doing so, he knocked another item off his bucket list.
“It was just a tremendous opportunity,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Duvernay-Tardif is mastering another field of work. The 27-year-old says he is planning to become the first football player to step onto an NFL field as a physician next season.
“I want to put Duvernay-Tardif M.D. on my jersey,” he said. “I’ve already started a conversation with the league office and they say that anything is possible.”
But before he takes his medical exam in May, Duvernay-Tardif decided to dip a toe into journalism. He pitched the idea to Radio-Canada to work as a reporter, combining his medical knowledge with athletic experience to tell stories about what athletes endure at the Olympics.
“I think it’s nice that with my background in medical school and my background as an athlete, I can communicate or connect better with some of the athletes,” he said.
Duvernay-Tardif is accustomed to being around the media, but he wanted to give the other side of the microphone a try. He’s always been interested in journalism, but he’s realizing it’s harder than it looks.
Especially when it comes to getting access to athletes: He said it was frustrating to have his interview with Canadian gold medalist Mikaël Kingsbury pushed back by other media outlets with broadcast priority.
“It makes you realize that once the journalists get to you, you need to be kind because they work hard in order to get there,” he said.
It probably helps being the largest reporter at the Olympics. Rather than intimidate his subjects, he said, his size has made it easier to connect with sources, who seem to be amazed by his giant frame.
After the Olympics, Duvernay-Tardif is planning to hit the books and finish off his medical degree. His seven long years at McGill University’s medical school are coming to a close before the football season kicks off.
“I need to make sure I pass it because it's the last year I'm allowed to pass that exam,” he said. “After that, I'd have to start over the whole thing.”
Once the Olympics are out of the way, he’ll have a clear path to crossing more career achievements off his personal checklist.
“If I make it to the Pro Bowl in the same year that I graduate from medicine… and win the Super Bowl, then I don't know what I'm going to do,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “All my goals will be accomplished.”