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Chiefs already checking in on Willie Gay Jr. as he serves suspension

Kansas City had an idea they would be without Gay for a portion of the season.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, the NFL handed down a four-week suspension to Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr.

These sorts of suspensions rarely come as a surprise to either the team or player. Generally, the NFL will give both parties a heads-up that something like this could be coming. During his Wednesday press conference, head coach Andy Reid confirmed that in this case, that’s what had happened.

“We had an idea that something was going to happen,” said Reid. “So we tried to prepare for it the best we can — just in case it did.”

Gay’s suspension stems from an off-field incident in January between Gay and the mother of his child. It resulted in Gay being charged with a misdemeanor for property damage amounting to less than $1,000.

Gay has previously spoken about how his teammates have helped him with the mental health struggles he first revealed last fall — not to mention his son being born 16 weeks prematurely. And now, Gay’s teammates are saying that they have again reached out to encourage him.

“I’ve been checking in on him as a person (and) as a father,” fellow linebacker Nick Bolton told reporters on Wednesday, ”making sure he keeps his head up and we’re going to keep moving forward.”

Bolton also revealed that Gay wanted him to relay a message to the rest of the team, making a reference to his “Juice Man” nickname.

“He wants to go out there and execute and have fun,” said Bolton, “and he wants to see his juice flow through us.”

“Obviously, the whole situation was a bad situation that we don’t want to happen,” remarked quarterback Patrick Mahomes, “but at the same time, we love Willie as a guy — and we want him to come back in and still be a great part of this team.”

In recent years, the Chiefs have been proactive with regard to their players’ mental health. In June of 2019, they hired Dr. Shaun Tyrance as the team's in-house clinician and counselor. Reid said that both he and linebackers Brendan Daly have been in communication with the linebacker — and that Gay had also spoken with the man everyone calls “Dr. T.”

“The league’s very sensitive to issues off the field,” noted Reid. “They’re also sensitive to the mental health part of it. So Willie and I had a nice visit — and we’ve got Dr. T. here. So Dr. T has talked to him and his position coach had talked to him.”

“He seems to be in a good place that way right now. He loves to play the game. It’ll be a long four weeks there for him. He’s allowed to come back [to the practice facility] here after two weeks, so we’ll have him right here. But I think he’s in as good of a place he can be for that.”

In June, Gay was hopeful things would go more smoothly for him this season.

“I just pray this year will be a good year,” he said. “I know adversity will come, but I just gotta fight through it — now more than ever.”

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