There are millions of people watching the Super Bowl, but far fewer participating. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is part of the second group.
As a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, the former offensive lineman took part in the 54e Super Bowl, presented in Miami in February 2020, against the San Francisco 49ers. A match which ended with a victory for the Chiefs and the Quebec player, who has forgotten nothing about this Sunday and the previous days.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot this week. This frenzy, knowing that the match is coming, brings back memories. Good memories…
No doubt, the man we nicknamed LDT has great memories of the Super Bowl and everything that comes with it.
A match like any other?
“The players will say that, but it’s not true! When you leave, you have two weeks to prepare, and football is a sport where routine and habits pay off. Normally, you play every Sunday, and when you go on the road, you take a flight on Saturday. You arrive at the hotel around 5:30 p.m. local time, meeting at 7:30 p.m., we eat the same thing, we go to bed, we get up the next day, we arrive three and a half hours before the start of the game. Afterwards, you do your player routine in the stadium which is empty… But then, you arrive at the Super Bowl, and the stadium is never empty! You have security, music, fans who are already there, and you have to find a way to perform in that environment. So no, it’s not a match like any other! But once the first play is made, it becomes a match like any other. It’s the hours and days before that can make you feverish, and it’s easy to get caught up in it all. The rest of us, the match took place in Miami, where there are distractions… Now it’s in Vegas, where there are even more distractions! You have to find your bearings in all of this. »
In search of normality
“In a normal week, usually, Monday and Tuesday are days that are much lighter in terms of preparation; we’re going to have a break, we’re going to look back on the previous match. But you get to the Super Bowl, and the first two days it’s media, interviews, there’s not a lot of team activity. I remember some guys wanted to go to a restaurant because that’s what they usually did… you don’t want to deviate too much from the usual preparation. When we arrived in Miami, we were left to our own devices, but on Wednesday, normal days could resume, from 7 or 7:30 a.m. until 4 or 5 p.m. There, it was the same meetings, the same preparation, the same training, and I remember that it helped me a lot. By Wednesday, I had found my bearings. »
The morning of the big match
“When I got up that morning, I was on a mission. We were able to get back to our habits, and there, we had configured the locker room like ours at home. When I arrived at the stadium, I found that it looked a lot like a match day, knowing that this one was bigger, obviously. Every day when we left the hotel to go to practice, there were fans waiting with posters and signs, and everywhere we went as a team, it was with a police escort. There’s a little something very surreal about it all…”
The halftime show? No time for that
“Coach (Andy) Reid, being a great strategist and a great leader with a lot of experience, had prepared us for this. We knew exactly how many more minutes we were going to have to wait before the start of the match, and also during the half-time break. We even simulated halftime during our training… Normally, it lasts around 10 minutes, but here, we knew it was going to take around 25 minutes. That’s a big difference. Usually, you go back to the locker room, you take an orange, you go to the bathroom, there’s the offensive line meeting, the attack meeting, you get in line with the others and then you go back to the ground. But there, with something like 10 more minutes to wait, we had to warm up so as not to get sore. We had prepared for this over the previous two weeks, it didn’t take us by surprise. We didn’t see anything from the halftime show…”
“I especially remember the last games, when we knew we were going to win. We scored a rushing touchdown to add to our lead, and a little later we had time to run out, so we had to execute a quarterback break down the right side to run out the final seconds and end the game . It’s a situation that doesn’t happen often, and we had to bring out this play, which we hadn’t repeated since training camp. I thought it was great to see that everyone on the team remembered it, and we were able to execute it. I saw Pat (Mahomes) throw the ball far into the stands, and that’s when it hit me, we had just won… Then my parents and my friend Florence came on the field while I I was interviewed on RDS, it was a great moment. It couldn’t have been a hotter reaction. It was pure, it was beautiful… that’s what sport is. »