For Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark, the offseason plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic gave him the chance to catch up on some things that he otherwise might not have had time to do.
“I just [tried] to stay as focused as possible,“ he told reporters on Tuesday. “They may have closed a lot of gyms and stuff where I trained out in Los Angeles, but I did a lot of good things, too. Allowed me to spend more time with my family and people I hadn’t had time to catch up with over the years. Had more time to handle some business and stuff like that.”
When he finally returned to Kansas City after months of virtual preparation with his teammates, he was impressed with what he found.
“They’ve done a magnificent job — from the top to the bottom every day — providing us with a safe and energetic learning community,” he marveled. “For us to be able to come in and sit in class, go on the field and be able to produce and practice in a safe community... I feel like that’s been most important. So many questions about the safety of our players, the safety of our coaches, us having to go home. I feel like everybody here in our building has done an excellent job of providing us with a safe community for us to work in.”
But Clark said he believes that despite the distractions of everything going on around them, his teammates are just as focused on the job at hand.
“I feel like that’s where our strength is,” he declared. “We haven’t wavered from that. It’s having that short memory. ’Yeah, we won the Super Bowl last year.’ But that was last year. Some guys get cocky. They love the emotions of winning it and carry it on to next year — and it don’t really do s—t for them on the field.
“Us being champions last year? Nobody cares about that. Our coach don’t care about that. It’s pretty nice — it’s cute and all — but we’ve got stuff to do this year.”
But for Clark, the best part of being back is to be with his friend Chris Jones, who had finally been able to close a long-term deal with the Chiefs before training camp began.
“That’s my dog,” said Clark. “I’m so happy he got paid and stuff. He was able to come back with all those type of things. So happy, man!”
Clark said that during his time in Seattle, he had often marveled at Jones’ ability — and was grateful for the opportunity to play alongside him.
“Finally getting a chance to be out here, getting acclimated with the system to be able to play with him last year, it was just great,” Clark recalled of his first season with the Chiefs. “We talk all the time. We look at each other and we understand what’s asked of us. We understand the type of pressure that’s put on players like us.
“But we embrace it, too. It’s all fun. Like I tell him, ‘Have fun with it. Don’t let it stress you out too much.’ And he’ll tell me the same: ‘We’re going to be the best two defensive linemen ever to play the game together.’ That’s one of the things we always talk about: we have a few years to do something great.”
For Jones, it’s like a movie — one that’s he’s already scripting in his head.
“When we finally retire, they’re going to make a movie about the process itself — and how we were able to bend to keep this team together. How coach Reid came to us — an organization that hadn’t won a championship in 50 years — and finally brought them their first championship.”
In his mind’s eye, Jones has the all the characters blocked out.
“The general manager — how he was able to make sure that everything stayed intact — and Brandt Tilis, who was able to finesse these contracts to fit under the cap issue. And the scout Ryne Nutt, Mark Donovan, the Hunt family — the list will go on.”
And Jones said he is setting his sights high for the production, comparing it to ESPN’s recent blockbuster series, “The Last Dance.”
“It will be a beautiful movie — but they’re definitely going to make a movie about this,” he said.
“Hopefully, it will be by Sack Nation Productions.”