KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes and several of his Kansas City Chiefs teammates reported for training camp Friday, with 90% of the team’s roster having received the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There’s six teams that are over 90%, so we’re glad to be in that area there,” coach Andy Reid said. “We’re one of the teams where the players have really challenged themselves to get things done and take care of business.”
The Chiefs are holding training camp on the campus of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, and Reid says fans will notice new procedures when attending practices this summer. Players will not be signing autographs and other measures are being taken to increase health safety for players and other club employees. Reid reported that 100% of his staff has received a vaccine.
Those numbers are a far cry from the vaccination numbers in Missouri, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 40.8% of the population is fully vaccinated. In Buchanan County, where the Chiefs train in northwest Missouri, only 19.34% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Reid credits players for talking with one another about the vaccine and trust in the club’s medical staff for the high vaccination rate.
“Not everybody understands and has been educated on this,” Reid said. “Or listened, I guess. Maybe they have been educated, but they’re not listening as close. And then you’ve got to make a decision. We all have had to do this. You’ve got to make a decision on how you want to go forward.”
Mahomes said in April he chose to get the vaccine to help protect his newborn daughter. He said then and still maintains it’s a personal choice for each player.
“Do whatever you think is best for you and your family,” Mahomes said. “I don’t let it become a distraction. We kind of go about business as we’re trying to do whatever we can to win, and if you’re not vaccinated just try to be smart, wear your mask, try to limit your interactions with other people that aren’t vaccinated and try to make sure you’re ready to go whenever it’s game time.”
On Thursday, the NFL informed teams that if a game cannot be rescheduled due to a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team dealing with the outbreak must forfeit the game and will be credited with a loss.
“It’s definitely a big deal with that coming out, forfeiting games, you never want to do that,” Mahomes said. “But I think we have the guys in the locker room that are either vaccinated or going to be smart if they’re not vaccinated and not try to hurt the team in any way.”
Players who aren’t vaccinated must follow different protocols than players who are. Unvaccinated players must continue wearing masks inside team facilities while maintaining social distancing while vaccinated players enjoy greater freedom and fewer restrictions in locker rooms, workout facilities and meeting rooms.
“Obviously, if you’ve had it, it’s a little bit easier road,” Reid said. “The other one is very similar to last year if you haven’t had it, and that wasn’t the easiest thing to get through, I think, for everybody.”
Taking the path of least resistance is important to Mahomes, who arrives at training camp eager to set aside the disappointment of falling to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl last February.
“I think it stuck with me for a couple of weeks,” Mahomes said. “But other than that, I just kind of started back growing, trying to get myself back to be in this position now where I can go into training camp fully healthy and having the mindset we’re going to have to push to be even better this year.”
NOTES: Reid said 30 players — including the quarterbacks and rookies — reported on the first day of camp Friday, with the rest of the squad planning to arrive ahead of Monday’s deadline for veterans. ... Among injured players arriving early are safeties Juan Thornhill (knee) and Armani Watts (foot), cornerback Deandre Baker (fractured leg) and defensive end Taco Charlton (ankle). ... Reid expects defensive Frank Clark to arrive in camp Monday despite the veteran facing charges for felony possession of a weapon in California. “Frank will be here, and we’ll go forward with that.”
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