In July 2020, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif sent shockwaves through the sports world by becoming the first NFL player to opt out of the upcoming season during the global pandemic
As plans for the 2020 NFL season ramped up and daily cases of Covid-19 continued to skyrocket, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a fixture on the offensive line of the Kansas City Chiefs, stepped away from the game he loved. Not only an active player but also a medical school graduate, Laurent realized that continuing to play—and potentially spreading the virus—was antithetical to everything he believed in. For the first time in his remarkable career, Laurent couldn’t reconcile his twin passions of football and medicine. Only months after his team had won the Super Bowl, he found himself on the front lines of the pandemic, working in a long-term care facility in Quebec.
As Laurent settled into his new reality, he quickly came up against a severe Covid outbreak in his hospital unit. Meanwhile, his team, the Kansas City Chiefs, entered the playoffs as the favourites to repeat as champions in a season that saw countless games postponed due to league-wide outbreaks, including one on Laurent’s own offensive line.
From the incredible high of winning the Super Bowl to the burnout of working as an orderly, Red Zone takes readers inside Laurent’s life as he grapples with his roles of medical professional and NFL football player during a global pandemic. But this captivating memoir also reveals Laurent’s remarkable personal story, detailing how his insatiable curiosity and solid work ethic led him from his family’s bakery in Montreal to become one of the most fascinating and accomplished people in professional sports.
About the author
LAURENT DUVERNAY-TARDIF, a right guard for the New York Jets, is the only active NFL player with a medical degree. In 2018, one year after becoming the fourth?highest paid guard in NFL history, he graduated from McGill University. As a fixture on the offensive line, Laurent was an integral part of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl 2020 win. Just months after this victory, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, he stepped away from football to work as an orderly at a long-term care facility in the Montreal area. For his remarkable accomplishments on and off the field, Laurent was named co-winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy for top Canadian male athlete and co-recipient of the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year award. He also received the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award. His scrubs and lab coat are on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"Laurent may have won a Super Bowl, but his intrinsic sense of responsibility and inspired commitment to his community is bigger than any game, than any trophy. His compelling personal story is motivating and uplifting." — Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser, 4-time Olympic gold medalist
"Laurent Duvernay-Tardif managed to combine NFL superstardom with medicine, then put his lucrative football career on hold to care for long-term care residents during the worst pandemic in a century. His story is riveting and inspiring." — Dr. Brian Goldman, bestselling author of The Power of Teamwork
“In Red Zone, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif finds himself grappling with two questions: Who am I? What do I stand for? In the ensuing chapters, he reveals both answers, with humour, authenticity and heart. Laurent reminds us that meaning and purpose in work are the ultimate goalposts. This book is powerful, moving, instructive, and cathartic.” — Dr. Jillian Horton, author of We Are All Perfectly Fine
“Laurent is not only an intelligent and highly accomplished person, but also one of the kindest and most caring. He inspires me to be a better athlete, but more importantly, motivates me to be a better person.” — Mikaël Kingsbury, Olympic gold medalist and World Champion moguls skier