KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The long hours Laurent Duvernay-Tardif spends at practice will seem like a vacation of sorts. The playbook will seem like a comic book. Success would be sweet, failure merely a disappointment.
The moment he heard his name called in the sixth round of the NFL draft on Saturday, the Montreal native went from being a medical student at McGill University spending 60 hours a week in neonatal intensive care units to an aspiring offensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs.
You see, in a draft full of intriguing stories, Doc Larry is especially unique.
After all, how many 23-year-olds are late to their adviser’s house to watch the draft because they were helping to deliver twins by emergency C-section? And how many NFL hopefuls have spent their spring working at children’s hospitals, first in the emergency room and later in the NICU, often handling babies that fit comfortably in his massive hands?
How many players who heard their names called over the three days of the draft have just one more year of medical school before they can call themselves a doctor?
Duvernay-Tardif plans to fit that in during summers, when he is able to take a break from football. But for now, his focus has shifted entirely to the Chiefs. He planned to be in Kansas City this week for rookie orientation, with a three-day rookie minicamp starting May 24.
“Thing is that a year ago, my dream was to play in the CFL,” said Duvernay-Tardif, who played so well at the East-West Shrine Game that several teams — including the Chiefs — took notice.
“At that point, I was like, ‘Oh, damn! I think the NFL is the place for me to play,” he said. “Everything went well after that. I was training in the States. I had two visits and hosted my own Pro Day in Montreal and a few teams showed up. Everything went really well for me.”
Let’s be clear about one thing: There’s a good chance that Duvernay-Tardif is a better doctor than he is a football player at this point.
The competition in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport system — which has produced 10 draft picks total — is not exactly the same as the Southeastern Conference. McGill is not Alabama, having produced one other draft choice — a long-snapper taken by Jacksonville in 2001.
Some of the rules of the Canadian game are also a bit different. Then throw in the fact that Doc Larry will be going against players bigger, faster and stronger than ever before, and chances are he’ll be in for a rude baptism when he finally straps on a Chiefs helmet.
“Competition (in Canada) is really a step backward,” said Pat Sperduto, the team’s area scout, “(but) football is blocking and tackling. Nothing changes there. It’s still the same there. You just watch him, you realize that this kid has physical talent.”
For one thing, he has prototypical size at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds. He also has what Sperduto called a “nasty” streak on the field, which is a bit hard to reconcile with the affable med student who has been spending his time working with sick children.
“The potential that he has ahead of him is really good,” general manager John Dorsey said. “Now he’s going to have to learn, but what he demonstrated at the East-West Game, he actually played at a very high level. He did very well. When you have a player like that — he’s got so much more room to grow.”
The Chiefs lost three players who started along the offensive line on the first day of free agency, and while Kansas City made a few moves to counter the departures, there is still a pressing need for offensive line depth. Duvernay-Tardif could provide some of it.
“I think when you play football, you have to play 100 percent,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “When I went to the Shrine game, I said, ‘Let’s compete until you hear the whistle,’ and that’s what I’m going to do at training camp. And hopefully I’m going to be able to compete for a spot.”
And if things don’t work out? He certainly has a fallback plan.