A photo of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes exchanging pleasantries with New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore after their game on Monday night began making the rounds Wednesday after it became public knowledge that Gilmore tested positive for COVID-19.
Heading into the NFL season, the league put in new protocols regarding post-game interaction, banning those in which players were within six feet of one another.
“I think you just have to trust in the process and protocols that were set in place,” said Mahomes in his weekly media availability on Wednesday. “Obviously, knowing that I went up to him after the game and just gave him a high five, like I have done my whole career and not thinking about it was a little bit of a mental lapse — just trying to show sportsmanship and stuff like that.
“But I feel like the protocols in place are good. I just have to trust in that, wear my mask, do whatever (Chiefs head athletic trainer) Rick (Burkholder) and them say and just trust in — we don’t all know what’s happening in the world at this time but accept the challenge every day of being in the best place I can be to be available for the team.”
The interaction with Gilmore might not have been the only time Mahomes was put at risk, with fellow Chiefs quarterback Jordan Ta’amu reportedly testing positive last Friday.
Mahomes explained that the NFL and NFL Players Association are in consistent communication with Burkholder regarding the managing and handling of the virus during the 2020 regular season. On Tuesday night — following the Tennessee Titans’ outbreak — the league tightened coronavirus protocols (that was before the Titans woke up with two new positive cases on Wednesday).
From last night: The NFL has new stricter protocols for COVID-19. Clearly necessary given today’s news. https://t.co/i1CQxqN3yh— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 7, 2020
“They do a great job of that, and Rick reminded guys after the game and he also reminded guys today in our meetings of protocols and the different stuff we have to do in the building and during the games. I think as long we listen to those protocols, we can keep from hopefully having any outbreaks or anything like that — and keep it to an isolated incident and hopefully be able to go out there and play the sport that we love every day.”
Mahomes revealed he even stayed away from his pregnant fiancé, Brittany, for a few days as a precaution. Not bringing the virus home to their families remains a critical point for every Chiefs player.
“It’s definitely crazy right now,” admitted wide receiver Tyreek Hill. “My job is to basically come in and control the things I can control. And that’s my safety, and that’s my teammates’ safety, and that’s the coaches’ safety and that’s even my kids’ safety. And I’m going to continue doing everything I can — whether it’s wearing my mask in meetings, even practicing throughout the week.”
Hill said starting Wednesday, he would “double-mask,” which meant wearing a mask of his own as well as the “coach (Andy) Reid” visor.
“We’ve taken it day by day,” Reid said during his turn on Wednesday’s Zoom conference call. “We try to do the best we possibly can at keeping ourselves as clean as we can and at the same time learning every day, so we’re all wearing masks — we’ve been doing that... we’ve tried to keep our nose and mouth covered the best way we possibly can and then tried to be as safe as we can off the field. But listen, just like [the media], every day is a new experience that you got to work through and that’s what we’re doing.”