Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif graduated from medical school at McGill University in Montreal last month, becoming Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, M.D. But Duvernay-Tardif won’t be able to show off his new title during the Chiefs’ games next season. According to TVA Sports’ Andy Mailly-Pressoir, the NFL has denied Duvernay-Tardif’s request to add the letters “M.D.” to the back of his jersey, though “he hopes that the recent media buzz surrounding his graduation can make a difference.”
Duvernay-Tardif, a polymath who also worked as a journalist at the Winter Olympics this year, is likely the first M.D. to play in the NFL since 1955.* While he’s far from alone among players who wanted to change the back of their jerseys, Duvernay-Tardif’s request is unique in that he worked extremely hard for those two letters. And it seems like the NFL had plenty of time to come to a reasonable conclusion on his request.
“I want to put Duvernay-Tardif M.D. on my jersey,” he said in February. “I’ve already started a conversation with the league office and they say that anything is possible.”
“Anything is possible” seems like a curious statement coming from a league that’s been defined by a sharp opposition to personal expression and individuality, but even for the “No Fun League,” this feels unnecessarily harsh. Maybe they’re worried about having a doctor seeing all those brain injuries up close.
Update (6/26, 4:21 a.m.): Besides Bill McColl in the ’50s, Jim Kovach appears to have earned his medical degree in 1984 while still an active player, and Bill’s son, Milt, earned his degree in 1988 before playing his final NFL season.