On Thursday, the NFL dropped a bit of a bombshell, telling its teams that in the event 2021 games are postponed because of COVID-19 outbreaks among unvaccinated players — and they can’t be rescheduled within the 18-week schedule — the teams with the outbreaks will forfeit the games.
So Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid knew he’d be asked about it on Friday — when he met with reporters virtually after quarterbacks and rookies reported to the team’s training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.
“We’ve got about 90% of our players have taken the shot and are in that protocol there, as far as what the league’s put forward,” said Reid in his opening statement. “100% of the staff — they’ve all been vaccinated — so that’s a positive ... There are six teams that are over 90% — and we’re glad to be in that area there.”
Reid had previously indicated that the Chiefs were among the teams with the most players vaccinated, but recent press reports — which have said that as many as 14 teams have at least 85% of their players vaccinated — had not identified the Chiefs as one of them. Reid said that making it happen had been a genuine team effort.
“I think it’s just guys talking to each other,” he told reporters. “I think it’s trusting your medical staff — which ends up being important in this. Not everybody understands and has been educated on this — or listened, I guess. Maybe they have been educated and just didn’t listen as close.”
But Reid was careful to say that the ultimate decisions had been left to individual players.
“We’ve all had to do this — make a decision on how you want to go forward,” he noted. “The league’s got their policy if you don’t have it — and they’ve got policy if you have had it. Obviously, if you’ve had it, it’s a little bit easier road; the other one’s similar to last year if you haven’t had it — and that wasn’t the easiest thing to get through for everybody.”
Patrick Mahomes echoed his head coach’s remarks.
“Like I said earlier in the offseason, it’s your choice,” he said. “Do whatever you think is best for you and your family.”
But Mahomes said that he wasn’t going to allow the league’s announcement to get in the way of taking care of business as usual.
“I don’t let it become a distraction,” said the Chiefs’ star quarterback. “We kind of go about business as ‘we’re doing whatever we can to win’ — and if you’re not vaccinated, just be smart: wear your mask, limit your interactions with other people that aren’t vaccinated and make sure you’re ready to go whenever it’s game time.
“It’s definitely a big deal with that coming out [about] forfeiting games — you never want to do that — but I think we have guys in the locker room who are either vaccinated or are going to be smart if they’re not vaccinated — and not hurt the team in any way.”
Reid said that the team’s remaining unvaccinated players wouldn’t be hearing any more on the subject from him.
“Listen, I don’t have anything to say one way or the other with the 10%,” he declared. “They know the guys who’ve been vaccinated and haven’t been vaccinated — all the coaches have been — so I’m hoping that they all stay safe ... That’s what’s most important in my eye: that however it’s done, let’s keep people safe. That’s where I’m at.”