There’s been news about the novel coronavirus swirling around the Kansas City Chiefs this week — and on Friday, head coach Andy Reid answered reporter’s questions about it.
It started on Thursday morning, when the Chiefs revealed that a member of the team’s staff — later identified as the team’s head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder — had tested positive for the virus. Later in the afternoon, it was reported that star defensive tackle Chris Jones was being placed on the team’s Reserve/COVID list — not for testing positive, but rather because he had been exposed to someone else who was a carrier.
On Friday morning, we learned that Jones was being moved back to the active roster after his Thursday test for the coronavirus had come back negative.
So reporters had a lot of questions about exactly what had happened. Players who have been deemed “high-risk” after being in close contact with an infected person must go on the Reserve/COVID list for a minimum of five days after that exposure.
Was Jones exposed to Burkholder? Or another person outside of the team? And if so, when?
But Reid wasn’t willing to share much information about it.
“Listen, we knew things were going to happen,” he said in his opening statement. “That’s all part of this; it’s happening around the league. Everybody’s taking into consideration the protocols and following those — and they’re working.”
As far as Reid was concerned, the most important thing was that the team could get back to their normal preparation for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.
“We were able to resume today — [to] practice and go about our business,” said Reid. “Guys stepped up to fill in for Rick; his people did a nice job with the team and working with them. Again, [we] anticipated this.
“As far as Chris Jones goes, he was back at practice today. That’s part of the protocol: they evaluate and they communicate — most of all — with them, [to] find out with his tracer where he’s been and what’s been going on. So he was good to go for today.”
The tracer to which Reid was referring is an electronic device that players, coaches and support staff all wear, keeping track of where each individual is located at all times. In case an infection is discovered, the team can quickly and accurately determine who else has been in close contact with the exposed person.
Pressed for additional information, Reid didn’t want to explain any further.
“I’m not going to get into details of it,” he said. “That’s not what we do. But [Jones] was back and we did follow the protocol — that’s probably the most important thing — and it was OK’d by the league.”
Reid denied that these incidents have lessened his confidence in the league’s coronavirus protocols — or his players’ ability to follow them properly.
“Things just happen,” he explained. “The guys are very aware of everything that’s going on — we talk about it often. So I don’t think that’s the issue there. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well the guys have done; they’ve been very diligent with things.”
Across the league’s teams, that hasn’t always necessarily been true. A number of teams have dealt with multi-player outbreaks — several just in the past week. For their Thursday night game, the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers elevated a total of seven practice-squad players to complete their COVID-depleted rosters. Also on Thursday, the Las Vegas Raiders (and their head coach Jon Gruden) were fined a total $650,000 and stripped of a sixth-round draft pick for repeated protocol violations.
But to put it in Reid’s vernacular, that’s just not how the Chiefs roll.
“Very easily, you could blow things off — but that’s not the approach they take,” said Reid of his team. “Do things happen? Absolutely. Things happen — just like to you or anybody else. We just try to be as safe as we possibly can.”