KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the reigning Super Bowl champions, playing football during a pandemic isn't different from anybody else, but their attitudes about the challenges are.
“This is a championship organization, and when it comes to COVID, that’s how we acted," said Rick Burkholder, vice president of sports medicine and performance.
The uncertainty of the season started with the training camp move from St. Joseph, Missouri, to the Chiefs practice facility.
“The Chiefs have done an unbelievable job as an organization, getting us set up here around our facilities where we’re comfortable, where we’re familiar with it," tight end Travis Kelce said. "Obviously, I love St. Joe, to everybody out there, we’re going to miss you guys this year."
When the team was able to meet in person, following strict protocols was preached to the entire organization.
“We’re going to try to abide by that," Head Coach Andy Reid said. "We’re going to try to teach the best way that we possibly can, and then we’re going to trust the players and the coaches, I’m one of those, I’m included in this, that we’re doing the right things when we leave here."
Holding players accountable wasn't only Reid's job, but the leaders on the Chiefs roster.
“A lot of this is going to fall on us," safety Tyrann Mathieu said. "Just being responsible as well, you know, once we leave from outside the facility. I think that’s going to be the big thing, especially with the younger guys. So I’m more than sure I’ll be preaching that all season, just trying to keep everybody focused."
Chiefs newbies were happy when they were finally able to practice together as a team.
“It’s a lot better than the Zoom calls, of course, so it’s been a lot easier for me to actually be in person now and getting to see him explain things live," defensive end Taco Charlton said, "and you know, walk through things live and be able to ask him questions back and forth."
As practice moved forward, the cancellation of the preseason soon came.
“I kind of miss pre-season and then I don’t because it kind of saves your body a little bit," tight end Ricky Seals-Jones said. "It’s kind of like that glass half full type of thing where you want to play somebody and want to hit somebody new while you’re in training camp, but at the same time I get to save my body a little bit."
As the Chiefs have been careful throughout training camp, those efforts will continue all season long.
“It took this whole village to get us to today," Burkholder said. "It’s going to take this whole village to get us to Sept. 10, and it’s going to take even more people as we add to the ship to get us though February."