The last time the Kansas City Chiefs hosted the season-opener (in 2020), the world was still in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic and Arrowhead Stadium was limited to just 22% capacity. Chiefs safety Justin Reid expects that many viewers will be tuning in at home and looks forward to playing in front of a packed crowd at Arrowhead.
“I think there’s something special about in the sense that you’re kicking off the entire season,” Reid said of the pressure that comes with playing in the season-opener. “We’ll be the only game on TV, you know, all eyes on us, playing a very good Detroit Lions team that finished the season strong last year, so it’ll be a good game. We’re really excited about playing [at] Arrowhead anytime we get the chance to because our fans are unbelievable.”
Second-year defensive end George Karlaftis says his experience from last season has taken some of the pressure off hosting the season opener.
“You know kind of what’s going on, you know what to expect, you know what’s expected of you,” Karlaftis explained. “Just the knowing part, (there are) less unknowns…so it puts your mind at ease, stuff slows down.”
Despite his two decades as a head coach in the league, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid still feels the anticipation that comes with the first regular-season game. Reid acknowledged that, while the beginning of the season is exciting, he doesn’t want his younger players to get caught up in the moment.
“It’s great to get the season going,” Reid said of the opportunity to kick off the season. “You understand it’s a long season, but you’re focused in on every game, and you maximize yourself every game…but the important thing to the players, especially the new guys, the young guys, is that it’s faster than what we just had.
“It’s not breezy, so the tempo obviously ramps up another notch.”
After the Chiefs missed their first chance at back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 2021, quarterback Patrick Mahomes says that “not being satisfied with getting wins or having some early success” was one lesson he learned as the team is presented with that opportunity once again.
“I think you learn that a lot in the NFL, is you might have a great start to the season, but as the season goes on, you have to keep building, or other teams are gonna catch you,” Mahomes reflected. “You wanna be the best team at the end of the season just as much as you wanna be the best team at the beginning.”
Third-year linebacker Nick Bolton comprehends the proverbial target on the Chiefs’ back and embraces the heightened competitiveness stemming from the Chiefs’ success over recent years.
“We understand that being world champs and winning the Super Bowl, you want to get everybody’s best shot,” Bolton said. “That’s a competitive part of football… It’s just kind of the cost of winning and just got to go out there and execute.
“Again, who loves competition? I know I do.”