QB Patrick Mahomes on COVID-19: ‘Something I think about every day’

Calls hugging Gilmore after game a 'mental lapse'
Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Mahomes
Posted at 1:26 PM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 14:26:44-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With a pregnant fiancée at home, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said the possibility of contracting COVID-19 is “something that I think about every day.”

“You have to think about that with her being pregnant and in kind of a high-risk category,” Mahomes said of long-time girlfriend, Brittany Matthews. “I just try to do my best.”

After practice squad quarterback Jordan Ta’amu tested positive Saturday for COVID-19, Mahomes even took extra precautions.

“When I went home over the weekend, I slept in a different bedroom and stayed away from her as much as possible until I’ve gotten these negative tests back,” Mahomes said.

He said he’s being tested for COVID-19 every day, so he feels comfortable with and has faith in the Chiefs training staff and league-wide mitigation strategy.

Mahomes and Matthews got engaged in August and announced last month they were expecting their first child.

It has made Mahomes a little more cautious with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it didn’t stop him from approaching New England cornerback Stephon Gilmore for a hug and brief conversation after Monday’s game.

Gilmore — who had close contact with Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, who missed the game after testing positive Saturday — subsequently tested positive Tuesday for COVID-19.

Mahomes said it was a routine gesture of sportsmanship and called Gilmore “a great football player,” who he hopes is “getting better very quickly,” but he also promised to be more careful after future games.

“I’ll try to keep away from that and try not to do it again ...,” Mahomes said. “With Brittany being pregnant, I try to do whatever I can to social distance and stay away.”

Mahomes isn’t the only player with reason to worry about his family.

“You just have to trust in the process and protocols that are set in place,” Mahomes said. “Obviously, knowing that I went up to him after the game and just gave him a high-five like I’ve done my whole career without thinking about it, it was a little bit of a mental lapse.”

Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill said he’s doubling up with a mask and face shield “everywhere I go” to help keep his teammates, coaches and children safe.

“It’s definitely crazy right now, but my job is to come in and control the things I can control ...,” Hill said. “I’m just trying to protect myself, because I know, when I go home, I’ve got to deal with my kids. I don’t want to spread that to my kids or anything or my parents.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said the Chiefs and NFL have taken the pandemic seriously from the start and continue to do so.

“We’re all wearing masks. We’ve all been doing that, or shields, and whatever," Reid said. "Everyone’s trying to keep our nose and our mouth covered the best way we possibly can and then try to be as safe as we can off the field. ... Every day is a new experience that you’ve got to kind of work through, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Reid said the cafeteria and indoor practice facility have been adapted as extra meeting space to maintain social distancing.

After an all virtual offseason, Reid said some players have participated in meetings remotely with some in meeting rooms during training camp and throughout the season, depending on the space available.

Reid also said everybody on the field for NFL games, including players and coaches, wears tracers, which help with contact tracing by tracking proximity to and the amount of time spent near all other people on the field.

Based on that information, no Chiefs players have been told to quarantine by the NFL, despite Gilmore’s positive test Tuesday.

“It’s a different time, and you knew that coming into the season,” Mahomes said. “If you thought you were going to go through the entire season and no one was going to test positive, then you had a little bit of false hope.”

Mahomes, who is the Chiefs’ NFL Players Association rep, said there have been some conversations between the players union and league about the possibility of a bubble, similar to what the NHL and NBA successfully used to control COVID-19 and finish their seasons.

But Mahomes said the NFL is following baseball’s approach.

MLB didn’t use a bubble during the regular season, which led to some outbreaks — most notably with Miami and St. Louis — but got things under control as the shortened season progressed.

“I think that’s a good blueprint for us,” Mahomes said. “There’s kind of just been one real outbreak (Tennessee Titans) and a couple positive tests here and there. But if we can get to the protocols and really enforce them within each other — within the players and within the coaches — we can get to where we don’t have to be in that bubble situation.”

Mahomes said he’d be willing to enter a bubble, if it became necessary, because “I love the game and know how special this team is.”

So far, two NFL games have been postponed due to COVID-19.

The Chiefs-Patriots game was pushed back a day after Newton and Ta’amu tested positive, while last weekend’s Pittsburgh at Tennessee game was postponed to late October amid the Titans’ outbreak, which has grown to nearly two dozen players and staff members.

The league and NFL Players Association announced Wednesday that 26 team employees, including 11 players, tested positive from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3 — an increase from six positive cases, including only two players, the previous week.