Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has a US$42-million contract, graduated with a degree in medicine and is now a Tremendous Bowl champion — the primary Quebec-born participant and solely the ninth Canadian with that distinction.
And but, the hulking 6-foot-5, 321-pound beginning proper guard for the NFL’s Kansas Metropolis Chiefs stays the identical grounded, humble and unpretentious man who performed for McGill College when the soccer group couldn’t entice flies to its video games at Molson Stadium.
“I’m actually good at holding observe of my pals … the identical few I had from elementary faculty, CEGEP, McGill and medical faculty. They assist me keep grounded,” he defined. “They don’t need to hear in regards to the Tremendous Bowl; they need to have enjoyable. If I’m not the identical man I used to be 5 years in the past, they’re going to let me know.
“I don’t need that to occur.”
For an hour Sunday afternoon Duvernay-Tardif, barely 24 hours after arriving again in Montreal — following the Chiefs’ 31-20 Super Bowl victory over San Francisco and final Wednesday’s championship parade in Kansas Metropolis — sat on a stage on the aquatic complicated in Parc Jean-Drapeau answering questions, in French and English, with humour, candour, perception and thoughtfulness, wanting everybody within the eye whereas talking passionately.
Mathieu Quiviger, a former assistant offensive-line coach at McGill, got here from a weekend within the Laurentians to precise the gratitude and respect he has for the participant he as soon as briefly mentored.
“I simply wished 5 minutes with him to present him a hug. That was value coming again for,” stated Quiviger, himself a former Alouettes offensive lineman in 1996. “What shocked me at the moment was how he might maintain a (media) crowd like this. He was humorous, gentle and considerate. He’s a real man.
“When he kissed the Lombardi trophy (awarded to the NFL champs) … I noticed how far he has come. I’ve an amazing quantity of respect for that man.”
Duvernay-Tardif most likely would have spent all day entertaining the media, besides he was required outdoors to proceed the celebration, the place he acquired a hero’s welcome, honoured by roughly 2,000 followers who braved the sunny, however chilly, circumstances. Even Mayor Valérie Plante joined within the festivities.
“Lots of people got here right here particularly for him as a result of we’re so pleased with him,” she stated. “He means a lot. He’s a fantastic instance, a fantastic function mannequin for youth and adults. For me, he’s a task mannequin of willpower, of being open-minded. He’s a really down-to-earth man.
“He represents us so effectively as Montrealers, Quebecers and Canadians. The final 10 minutes of the Tremendous Bowl (when the Chiefs erased a 10-point deficit), who would have thought? That’s once I take into consideration willpower and concentrating in your objective. A lot of groups might have given up,” Plante added.
“I used to be screaming lots throughout that point. However I suppose lots of people had been.”
It was Plante and her assistants who reached out to Duvernay-Tardif by means of his agent, Sasha Ghavami, throwing the occasion along with barely 48 hours’ discover, starting a whirlwind, two-week tour for the participant.
He’s been invited by the Canadiens to attend Monday night time’s Bell Centre recreation towards the Coyotes. Duvernay-Tardif, a spokesperson for Héma-Québec, additionally will take part in a Wednesday blood donor clinic at McGill. The week of Feb. 17, he’ll criss-cross the province because the spokesperson for Hooked on College Days, discussing the significance of scholastic perseverance. Lastly, on the finish of the month, he and his girlfriend will escape for a trip.
“I instructed him we will’t simply do a press convention (Sunday) and finish it there. That is huge. After we noticed the quantity of enthusiasm everybody has … Laurent is near the individuals and needs to hook up with them,” stated Ghavami, pals with Duvernay-Tardif since their CEGEP days at André-Grasset. “It’s not an act. That is what he’s.”
If Duvernay-Tardif, a Mont-St-Hilaire native, was unaware of the impact he had on soccer followers whereas taking part in greater than 2,000 miles from Montreal, he shortly realized it Saturday, when he went out for meals, coated as much as courageous the weather, but was shortly acknowledged by passing motorists who couldn’t cover their adulation.
“How did they acknowledge me?” he shrugged. “Nevertheless it was all constructive. The followers are superior. In Montreal, they respect you. They’re so pleased with you. They’re not annoying. It’s all constructive. I can’t complain. I’m glad we received. I’m positive the suggestions and assist would have been the identical if we’d misplaced.”
It has been an unbelievable six-year journey for Duvernay-Tardif, a former defensive lineman who didn’t start taking part in soccer till he was an adolescent — then had the great fortune to play for head coach Andy Reid, whose mom, coincidentally, additionally graduated from McGill in medication.
“What a blessing,” Duvernay-Tardif stated. “How blessed and privileged I really feel to get this assist. There was a little bit of luck, too. And timing’s a giant a part of how issues unfold.”