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Different Uniforms!

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Some of you old-time football fans will remember Bo Schembechler, the legendary head coach of the Michigan Wolverines from 1969 to 1989. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 77 on the eve of the Michigan – Ohio State game, a No. 1 versus No. 2 showdown. 

It is said that Schembechler used to work his players especially hard during spring practice to see what kind of young men he had, winners or quitters.  He made a sign with a slogan on it and hung it above the locker room door. The sign read: “Those Who Stay Will Be Champions.”

Of course, not everyone stayed. One morning Schembechler came to the office and looked at the sign. Underneath the words “Those Who Stay Will Be Champions” someone had written, “And those who quit will be Doctors, Lawyers, and Teachers.”

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first medical doctor to play in the NFL. He played the biggest game of his life on February 2, 2020 as right guard when the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. He hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in front of a worldwide audience. 

Three months later Duvernay-Tardif took his seat in the chapel of a Quebec medical facility, dressed in scrubs and surrounded by nurses and orderlies, who were all nervous and exhausted. All had to work overtime. He saw his colleagues weeping, yet back they went to the bedside of their patients who were sick and dying of Covid-19, offering comfort as best they could. 

So for the 2020 NFL season Duvernay-Tardif, all 6-foot-5, 321 pounds, opted out of his season with the Kansas City Chiefs so he could work at the Covid-19 long-term care facility near his native Montreal. He traded his helmet for a mask and a face shield. He said plainly: “If I am to take a risk, I will do it caring for patients.” 

Duvernay-Tardif’s role in fighting Covid-19 off the field in 2020 resulted in Sports Illustrated naming him one of the Sportspeople of the Year. The same year he was named Canada’s top Athlete of the Year. In 2022 he was signed by the New York Jets. He retired from football in 2023.

Thanks to Pixabay for the picture.

As you watch the Super Bowl tomorrow, think of and say a prayer for all those very special people like Laurent Duvernay-Tardif who were there for us and even changed their uniforms for us. They risked their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic to prevent the loss of any more than the 1,193,752 people who have died in the United States as a result of Covid-19. 


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