It was there that George Karlaftis, who had excelled at water polo and a myriad other sports in Greece, fell in love with the American version of football. He was in the eighth grade and, for a young man learning a new language, adapting to a new culture and trying to make new friends, the game gave him an opportunity to discover himself.
Now, a mere eight years later, the 21-year-old Karlaftis has reached the pinnacle of the sport.
“Looking back on it,” he said, “it’s pretty crazy to think about. I feel like, more generally speaking, I’ve always excelled in sports to a certain extent. Football sort of came natural to me after I had a full year under my belt. I surely fell in love with it. Just looking back on it, I had a crazy, crazy ride. And just like the French say, ‘C’est la vie,’ right? That’s life.”
When the Chiefs hit the field to face the Washington Commanders at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday, the plan is to get the starters close to a full half of football. The offensive starters played anywhere from 3 to 16 snaps in preseason Week 1 and their workload could be doubled if not tripled this week.
“We’ll go somewhere (around the) first half with the 1’s,” Reid said. “It might be shorter than that, but I’m just going to see how things go. Then the rest of the guys will fill in. Chad Henne won’t play this game, like last year. We sit him and give the two young guys (Shane Buechele and Dustin Crum) some extra time.”
The Chiefs’ opening drive against the Bears last week gave us a snapshot of what Kansas City’s offense might look like this season: more multiple and more contributors. Last season, nearly 45% of Patrick Mahomes’ passes went to either Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce; obviously, that will change this season with Hill gone. In the 11-play TD drive at Chicago, seven Chiefs touched the ball — and that doesn’t include JuJu Smith-Schuster, the assumed WR1. Running back Isiah Pacheco — wearing Hill’s old No. 10 — got an early touch and had a 34-yard kickoff return. He has been a star in camp. In fact, Pacheco is getting reps ahead of free-agent signee Ronald Jones and could be in line for steady regular-season touches.
Chiefs Charity Game
Saturday’s game will mark the 38th annual Chiefs Charity Game. Since its inception in 1985, and through the vision of Lamar Hunt and the Hunt family, the Chiefs Charity Game has raised more than $15 million for local charities that support children in need. For the second-consecutive season, the 2022 Chiefs Charity Game will benefit MOCSA (Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault).
Since 1975, MOCSA has been the only rape crisis center in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area, serving victims of sexual abuse and assault across the lifespan, and educating the community about sexual violence. MOCSA’s counseling, advocacy, education and prevention services allow the agency to fulfill its mission to improve the lives of those impacted by sexual abuse and sexual assault, and to prevent sexual violence in a six-county, bi-state service area.
The Hunt family and team Founder Lamar Hunt established the Hunt Family Foundation in 1983 to support charitable agencies in the greater Kansas City community. The Hunt Family Foundation is committed to making a positive impact on those in need in the communities where we live and work through philanthropy, programming and volunteerism. The Hunt Family Foundation will present a check at halftime of Saturday’s game to MOCSA.
Around the NFL
Watson will also pay a fine of $5 million and undergo mandatory evaluation by behavioral experts and follow their suggested treatment program.
Watson’s fine and contributions from both the NFL and Browns of $1 million each will create a fund to support nonprofit organizations in the United States “that educate young people on healthy relationships, promote education and prevention of sexual misconduct and assault, support survivors, and related causes,” the NFL said in announcing the settlement.
Watson’s suspension takes effect Aug. 30, when NFL teams cut down to the roster limit of 53 players. He will be eligible for reinstatement Nov. 28 and will be available to play for the Browns again in Week 13, when Cleveland faces his old team, the Houston Texans, on the road.
While Brown, along with most of the Cardinals starters, won’t play this weekend, the matchup against the club from which he requested a trade provided the impetus for questions about his departure. Brown said Wednesday that he didn’t have a personal issue with anyone in Baltimore but just wanted to play in a different offense.
“It’s about happiness,” Brown said, via the team’s official website. “I want to feel like I am a part of something to win. At the Ravens, I just felt like sometimes they really didn’t need me. Regardless if I was there or not, they were going to win games.
“I love the game too much. I want to be involved.”
“We’ll see,” Bowles said, per ESPN, when asked Thursday when Brady will return. “We’ll talk about it next week. [I’m] not concerned about it right now. We’re trying to practice against Tennessee and play a game. I said ‘sometime after Tennessee.’ There’s no definitive date for me. But we’ll check on it, we’ll keep in touch and we’ll find out.”
Bowles added that he’s stayed in contact with Brady since the quarterback began his absence Aug. 11, expressing confidence that the seven-time Super Bowl champion will be under center when Tampa Bay visits the Cowboys to start the season Sept. 11. The fact that Bowles is even addressing Brady’s availability for Week 1, however, underscores the growing mystery surrounding his absence, which reportedly has nothing to do with health or family.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The new members of the Chiefs’ offense also had to learn what it meant to go through a Reid training camp. The head coach is notorious for running one of the more rugged August programs.
“I think we took a giant step as far as how we do things,” said Mahomes. “We have the talent. We got the guys that can go out there and make the plays. Coach Reid runs a tough training camp. It’s what we’ve been known for — I think it makes us better for it. And I think guys, as we went on, understood that. And they came out with the mindset they were going to compete every single day. You saw offense have good days [and] you saw defense have good days — and that’s usually a good sign for a good football team.”
On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo had noted that he liked how his defense rebounded after a shaky Monday performance — which meant that on Monday, the offense did well.
That was perhaps a theme of this camp that was different from other Chiefs camps in the Mahomes era: the offense had its days won — but so, too, did the defense.
“I thought it was great competition — and really, you can break it down by play,” said Reid. “They just challenge each other — and that’s all you can ask for as a coach. I thought it was great for the young guys to see that and feel that — that you have to come out here every day in the right mindset, and you have to challenge every play. Then, if you get beat, you got to learn from it, and then erase it and get on with the next play. If you let it linger, then you got a problem. Then you’re going to back-to-back these things, and you can’t do that at this level.”
A tweet to make you think
After practiced I asked Mahomes what he was looking forward to most now that camp is over...he said getting home to his baby girl.— Hayley Lewis (@HayleyLewisKSHB) August 18, 2022
"Seeing Sterling, for sure... 100%"#girldad #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/7LIn7IapJU