The Kansas City Chiefs distributed quotes surrounding the Eric Berry announcement on Monday that the team believes he has lymphoma but more testing is to come. Here is a transcript of the full Q&A with Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder, head coach Andy Reid and Chiefs owner Clark Hunt. Read Berry's statement here.
Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder and head coach Andy Reid
BURKHOLDER: "Thanks for being here. We wanted to be up front and give you guys an opportunity to ask some questions based on a non-football illness that we have with one of our players. So, I will walk you through the last couple of days, and I'll take you back to Thursday night in Oakland at the end of the ball game. Eric Berry came to me through Emmitt Thomas with some chest discomfort and so we evaluated him on the sideline, decided that he was okay to come inside right after the game. Dr. (Cris) Barnthouse, Dr. (Mike) Monaco, our two team physicians on the trip examined him and we came back to Kansas City. On Friday afternoon when we rejoined here for treatment and rehab, he was still having some discomfort in his chest and it just didn't quite add up as an orthopedic injury so we did an x-ray. That was negative and Dr. Barnthouse with his experience said, ‘you know we need to get an MRI on this'. So, we got an MRI Friday afternoon and Friday evening when we got the results and our physicians and radiology people at The University of Kansas Hospital read the MRI they discovered that he had a mass in his chest. It was on the right side, it is on the right side of his chest and that was Friday. On Saturday we did further testing at The University of Kansas Hospital including CT scans, some blood work and a PET scan. At that point, Coach (Reid), myself and our team of physicians met with Eric (Berry) and at that point in time and at this point in time, we don't have a definitive diagnosis, but the leading consideration of what he has right now is lymphoma and so the next step in the process is to finish some testing. He's about 75% done with the testing. His family and our Chiefs family have decided to go to Atlanta to the Emory University Hospital and see Dr. Christopher Flowers who's a specialist in lymphoma to continue to evaluate Eric. That evaluation will continue tomorrow and through the next couple of days. I know that we've talked to the group. Ted (Crews) will try to get you the information as we go forward with this diagnosis and treatment schedule. Right now it's not fair for us to put any kind of diagnosis on it. Like I said, the leading consideration for this thing is lymphoma, but we don't have a definitive diagnosis therefore there's no staging, there's no, you know any of the other questions that come along with lymphoma. As part of this process, the Atlanta Falcons medical staff assisted us, The University of Kansas Hospital oncology department and radiology department assisted us and we think we have Eric in a real good spot right now to have really good outcome with this mass in his chest. I would be remiss if I didn't tell you this weekend that our medical staff and The University of Kansas Hospital worked tirelessly to get to the point that we're at today and so I would like to thank Dr. Barnthouse, Dr. Monaco, Dr. (Paul) Schroeppel, Dr. (Josh) Nelson and in particular the radiology department at KU who worked tirelessly to get to this. And Eric's not here right now because he's on his way to Atlanta. At this point, I'll turn it over to you or to Coach."
REID: "We appreciate you coming to this and understanding the change of time. The importance is Eric Berry. He's absolutely number one in this, you put football aside in these types of situations. He had an opportunity today to address the team and feel their love and support, which I think is crucial in this. When you get into these situations you honker down and you battle for your life, is what you do. You have to be in a certain frame of mind. You have to have a certain support system to back you up and Eric's got that, not only with family but also with the Chiefs. We appreciate all that Clark (Hunt) has done for us and allowing us to support him the way we are. We know it's going to work out for Eric, he's a beast and right now he needs to be a beast. He'll attack this along with Dr. Flowers and I think it will be a very positive result when it's all said and done. If you have questions, which I'm sure you do, go ahead and fire away."
Q: Had Eric come to either of you with any complaints or symptoms of this before the Oakland game?
BURKHOLDER: "I can answer that, no he didn't. It goes along with a little bit of his toughness mentality. Everybody gets a physical back in June and everything checked out then. I've obviously been with him a lot this season, and he didn't complain about anything until at the ball game. Then we kind of put our process into place."
Q: So they are going to do a biopsy to determine what it is? Or what are those next steps?
BURKHOLDER: "I think it would be unfair for us to guess, but in general they may do further scans. He's had a bunch of scans here. In all likelihood, he is going to have a biopsy of one of the lymph nodes or of the mass. Typically what they do with those once they study them, they do some genetic matching and they put together a treatment plan. But really this is up to Dr. Flowers, and he'll be able to give you guys more information once he sees him in the next couple days."
Q: Is there any family history?
BURKHOLDER: "Not that we are totally aware of, not immediate."
Q: Andy, how were Eric's spirits?
REID: "He was upbeat and very positive. He was awesome this morning. He's not one that likes to do a lot of talking but he felt like the team needed to hear it from him that he's okay and that he's going to get after this thing and get it fixed."
Q: Did you kind of get a sense of how his teammates felt? What was their reaction?
REID: "Well he first met with the Players Committee, which there's a lot of players on the Players Committee that he's been here a number of years with. He talked to them, listen there were some guys that were obviously shocked by the information. Understandable so, these guys love him. He's a big part of this football team, obviously. Not only as a player but also as a person and leader, so there were some guys who were shaken up. But I think with his strength and being able to talk to the players, they felt a comfort in that."
Q: When you guys deal with something that is more than football, how do you pull people together? Does it just kind of happen because of the gravity of the situation, or as a coach what can you do?
REID: "We are really just a microcosm life. That's really what we are; in the building here it's a small family. Well maybe a big family I guess you would say. So we have this support, people step up and they work through the emotional part of it and support each other and most of all they support Eric. So I've said it once today, and I'll say it a bunch of times that this is about Eric, you put the Oakland Raiders to the side for this period here, and you put Denver aside for this period here. Football isn't as important as him getting himself better at this present moment. And that's the way the players approached it today and we will move on because that's how life goes. But we will move on with his spirit in hand."
BURKHOLDER: "I can elaborate on this a little more. When I came here two seasons ago, the one thing about our injury situation here always has included everybody in this room. Including Mark (Donovan) and Clark (Hunt) and Ted and Coach and our position coaches and team doctors, and we try to be very transparent with our players. So we know it's not a football related injury, but we kind of took that same approach with this, where we all got the information and got it out as quickly as possible. We rallied around the players, almost the same as when DJ (Derek Johnson) got hurt or (Mike) DeVito got hurt or any of those guys got hurt, it's always been a group effort here and I take my hat off to this organization because they make my job a lot easier by being truly family. It's not a cliché; it's fact."
Q: I know you mentioned that it's not definitive but I wonder if there is a best case/ worse case?
BURKHOLDER: "That's not really fare for any of us to go to. Like I said we're about 75% done with the testing, we think. Certainly I know that everyone wants to know right now, but there is a little bit of a process that we need to go through. We first were alerted to something on Thursday night and it's now Monday. We still don't have a definitive answer and that's okay. We're going to get to the experts, we're going to get the answers, and we're going to get a treatment program and then we will go from there. I'm sorry that we can't give you that, although I'm not apologizing but I am sorry that we cannot get you a definitive answer today."
Q: Those June physicals, do they usually include a chest x-ray?
BURKHOLDER: "Yes, and blood work. The National Football League and the Collective Bargaining Agreement have certain standards for the physical. Now the chest x-ray I believe, I would have to look back, I think it is every three years that they repeat a chest x-ray. Nothing showed up on his original chest x-ray here anyway, and we looked at blood work here to see it if matched up."
Chiefs owner Clark Hunt
Q: How did you first hear about the news with Eric Berry?
HUNT: "I first heard about it from John Dorsey and later had a chance to talk to Rick (Burkholder) about it and our medical team. And obviously I was shocked and very sad for Eric."
Q: What can you do as an organization to rally around the news?
HUNT: "In terms of any kind of programs, we really haven't gotten that far. The news is too new I guess is how I would put it. But I would say the important thing for us to do as an organization, as a family is what Andy (Reid) mentioned what the team is doing right now, which is just to tell Eric (Berry) that we love you, we're thinking about you and we hope that you have a quick recovery."
Q: You have had a couple of non-football situations in the last few years. How is the organization equipped now to deal with something like this?
HUNT: "Well I don't think you're ever equipped necessarily to handle what life throws at you and certainly this was completely unexpected. But I do think that we have a culture where we respect and support each other and really that is the most important thing in a time like this. I had a chance to speak with Eric earlier today and I just told him, ‘My family is going to be thinking about you and praying for a speedy recovery.'"
Q: How much on a personal level does this hit you?
HUNT: "Well certainly when you have somebody who has been with you for a number of years and I've had a chance to get to know him personally and he's been such a leader for our football team. It probably does pull at the heartstrings a little bit more. But putting that aside, whether it's an employee in the front office or somebody on the football field, when they are going through a tough time like this, we want to be there to support him."
Q: How did Eric Berry sound this morning when you talked to him?
HUNT: "He sounded upbeat actually and very positive. As you know, he's a very focused individual and his mindset was very much of tackling this and trying to get past it as soon as possible."