It's been an interesting few weeks for Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, as Kansas City's starting right guard put down his pads and picked up a microphone as a reporter covering the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The Quebec native has been working for the Canadian Broadcasting Cooperation throughout the games, where his unique background allows him to bring a different perspective to the events and the athletes competing in them.
Already an athlete himself, Duvernay-Tardif is also a medical student at McGill University in Montreal and offers a deeper understanding of how athletes physically and mentally prepare for competition.
The four-year veteran chronicled his time in PyeongChang thus far for NFL.com on Wednesday, where he reflected on his journey to the Olympics, the thrill of witnessing medal-winning performances and what he learned from his fellow athletes.
"Being here, I learned a lot about training while in competition," Duvernay-Tardif explained. "You don't realize it, but Olympic athletes are here for three weeks and compete anywhere from one to three or four times -- or even participate in full tournaments. They have to train in between events, and sometimes even the day after competing. Training (or not training) at the right level of intensity can optimize your performance, and I was able to relate a lot of it to football."
Duvernay-Tardif also noted the mental side of the athletes' preparation and how everything they work for comes down to a matter of minutes as opposed to a full season of games.
"I found a new appreciation for sports psychology," Duvernay-Tardif wrote. "I think there is a little bit of a stigma in our sport regarding mental preparation, but here at the Olympics, there's a big emphasis on it. As athletes, we typically put most of our energy into physical preparation. However, your mind needs to be right, because over the course of a season, sometimes you do well and sometimes you don't -- and you can't blame that on physical performance, as you're the same athlete the entire season. A lot of these Olympians get only minutes to win their version of the Lombardi Trophy."
Duvernay-Tardif discussed those thoughts while on a chairlift up the mountain with Jean Francois Menard, a mental performance coach for several of Canada's competitors. In fact, one of Menard's athletes, snowboarder Max Parrot, stood as a shining example of what it takes to compete in the Olympics.
"I couldn't help but think how mental strength must have boosted Parrot during the slopestyle final," Duvernay-Tardif wrote. "Wind and cold made conditions less than perfect, and I watched him fall in his first two runs. A dream he'd been working toward for four years came down to his third and final run.
"Before he took it, he watched his competitors go before him; some of them excelling, and some of them falling just as he had. To find the mental strength to be on top of a mountain and think, 'Alright, this is it. I've worked four years for this and if I fall again, I go home with nothing.' Instead of letting that thought scare him, he continued to watch and learn from others' mistakes to create the perfect run. Hitting his third run, Parrot won silver.
"To me, that kind of mental strength is just amazing."
It's those special moments that Duvernay-Tardif hopes to translate to his performance on the field next season.
"The experience is definitely something I'll bring back with me to Kansas City," Duvernay-Tardif wrote. "It was a great opportunity to be on the other side of the barrier and realize all over again what sports can do for people."