Up to this point, Kansas City Chiefs players have remained relatively unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic. At the end of July, since-released rookie wide receiver Aleva Hifo spent five days on the Reserve/COVID list after testing positive for the virus.
But after that, the team remained infection-free — that is, until last Saturday, when practice squad quarterback Jordan Ta’amu tested positive. His test — and the positive test that was recorded for New England Patriots starting quarterback Cam Newton — caused the league to move last week’s game between the teams to Monday night.
But despite the team’s relatively low infection rate, the Chiefs have still found themselves square in the middle of NFL schedule changes. The Tennessee Titans have been dealing with a large outbreak within their organization, which has already caused their Week 4 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers to be rescheduled until Week 7 — and has delayed their game against the Buffalo Bills this Sunday until Tuesday night.
Since the Bills were scheduled to face the Chiefs in Buffalo just two days later, that game has also been moved to the following Sunday — that is, unless more positive cases are reported on the Titans. If that happens, then the Tuesday game will (presumably) be postponed until later in the season — and the Kansas City-Buffalo game will return to Thursday night.
Yeah... it’s crazy.
“We’ve prepared to play on Thursday — if that’s the case — and then, whatever happens... happens,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told reporters on Friday. “I’m trying to stay focused on this one — and I know the league’s got to plan all of that and they’d let me know — but our minds are kind of right on this one here.”
Oh, yeah... the Las Vegas Raiders game!
While everyone in the league is buzzing about how the Chiefs’ Week 6 game is being moved, the team is still scheduled to play a division opponent in Sunday’s Week 5 game at Arrowhead Stadium.
“If we play Thursday, we play Thursday,” Reid continued. “If we play Sunday, we play Sunday. Whenever. Whenever that goes, it goes. But right now, we’ve got a big task with the Raiders, so we’re trying to focus in on that.”
This is all a pretty big adjustment for Reid — who is famously addicted to careful planning and repetitive routine in his game preparation — but he has no more control over it than anyone else does. And the last couple of weeks have been quite a wake-up call for everyone in the league.
“You just have to make sure you’re doing the right things and trying to take everybody into accountability,” said Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce on Friday. “You’re not just doing it for the guys on this team. You’re doing it for the guys league-wide. It’s unfortunate what’s been going on, but hopefully, everybody realizes again how serious this matter is — and how fast this bug can spread.”
Kelce said he’s even ready to ditch a time-honored NFL tradition: socializing with opposing players at midfield after a game. Theoretically, that’s already been prohibited during the 2020 season — but it’s been happening anyway. Such an interaction between Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore — who later tested positive — created quite a stir in the past week; Mahomes called it a “mental lapse.”
“I think that’s probably the safest way to do it,” said Kelce. “I think [Chicago Bears quarterback] Nick Foles did it last night — at least I thought he mentioned that in the interview after. I think it’s just the smart thing to do — just keep it moving. You can always shoot a guy a text or give a guy a call and let them know how much you respect them — things like that.”
Kelce said that everyone involved has no choice but to be ready for anything.
“You know, dealing with the week-in, week-out, not really knowing when to play if a guy does test positive, knowing that our Thursday game next week just got pushed... you’ve just got to roll with the punches.”