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NFL keeping low profile regarding “M.D.” issue

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The NFL has reportedly decided it won't allow Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to add "M.D." to the back of his uniform.

Why won’t the NFL let Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif apply the initials signifying his status as a Medical Doctor on the back of his jersey? The position on the M.D. issue has become the latest million-dollar question regarding the No Fun League.

And this one really isn’t about fun. It’s about celebrating excellence and inspiring others to emulate it. From persuading players to make early preparations for the post-football existence that Chuck Noll called “your life’s work” to making an impression on inquisitive children who learn that the “M.D.” next to Duvernay-Tardif’s name means “doctor” and who may decide in that moment to do the same, only good things would flow from granting the request.

PFT contacted the league by email on Saturday for confirmation of the story that had emerged from Canada regarding the no-M.D. edit. There was no response. PFT contacted the league by email again on Sunday, after MDS posted a story on the report from Canada, for confirmation and explanation. Again, there was no response.

The response from fans has been largely universal: It’s a bad decision and a worse look for a league that already allows “SR.” and “JR.” and other designations to appear on a jersey. So why not let Durvernay-Tardif to attach a designation that is used just as commonly?

There’s no reasonable argument against it. Often, the league takes the position that, if an exception is made for one player, exceptions will have to be made for other players. In this case, they should want other players to become the exception, by demonstrating the intelligence and work ethic necessary to get a medical degree while also working as an NFL player.

What’s the problem with celebrating this achievement? Does the NFL hope players won’t develop the kind of marketable skills that won’t make them completely dependent on professional football, ensuring that the NFL will have full and complete access to the players until the moment when the NFL decides it no longer wants or needs them?

That surely (I hope) isn’t the case. But the NFL usually has a reason for everything it does, even if the reasoning is misguided. In this case, there’s simply no valid reason to keep Duvernay-Tardif from letting the world know via his football uniform what he has accomplished.