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Multiple Chiefs were scheduled for appointments with a barber last Sunday, exactly one week before Super Bowl 55.
But not all appointments were carried out.
Instead, the team abruptly canceled appointments during the barber’s visit after receiving news he had tested positive for COVID-19, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.
Two players who did receive haircuts – center Daniel Kilgore and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson – were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list as high-risk close contacts with the virus.
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That reserve list was nearly much greater, according to a report.
More than 20 Chiefs players and staff, including quarterback Patrick Mahomes, were scheduled to receive cuts, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday afternoon. Schefter said that when the barber’s COVID-19 test came back positive, the team called off Kilgore’s haircut, mid-cut. Both were masked, per Schefter.
Kilgore tweeted a picture of his head half-shaven shortly after the report surfaced.
Kilgore and Robinson must test negative for five straight days before rejoining team activities. The timeline leaves open the possibility they will be healthy and available for Sunday’s game.
“I don’t even want to imagine what it would have to be to miss the Super Bowl because of COVID,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said. “Hopefully my guys can get back on the field. Just wouldn’t feel right without those guys.”
Since August 1, 262 NFL players have tested positive for COVID-19 as the league embarked on the pursuit of a contact sport amid a global pandemic. The league administered 954,830 COVID-19 tests from August 1 to January 23, registering an addition 462 positive personnel tests during that time.
All 32 teams completed their full 16-game regular schedule, though a handful of games were postponed or rescheduled. Three playoff weekends went off as scheduled as well, though the Cleveland Browns competed in their wildcard game with a remixed coaching staff after organization members including head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive.
“We’ve seen teams go through tough times in games,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said, citing the Browns’ playoff game and the Denver Broncos’ Nov. 30 loss to the Saints, in which Denver’s entire quarterback room was ruled ineligible. “We’re counting days until that (last) game kicks off. Proud of our players, thrilled we’re here.
“But we still got to get there.”
The Chiefs are in the Super Bowl for a second consecutive season. (Photo: Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports)
Since late November, the NFL’s COVID protocol has mandated daily COVID-19 PCR in BioReference Laboratories trailers parked at team facilities; Mesa point-of-care tests as a confirmatory resource when positive tests emerged; and more widely-available testing for friends and family living with or coming in contact with players.
Meetings turned virtual, increased physical distancing was mandated at team facilities, and travel policy came to require not only masks but specifically N95 or KN95 masks. Add in EPA-grade disinfectants, and COVID-19 testing of service providers (think: masseuses, chiropractors, barbers), and Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones believed the protection was strong.
“As long as you’re following the rules as best as you can, I think there’s a low possibility of you contraction the virus,” Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said. “Just follow the rules.”
But, Chiefs coach Andy Reid acknowledged, the NFL is far from the only place challenged to pin down and eliminate spread. NFL and NFLPA guidelines would have mandated that the barber be tested days prior to the appointment as well.
“The problem is you’re fighting the invisible man,” Reid said. “It gets you when you least expect it and we’re seeing that everywhere.
“You’re fighting germs. And they’re hard to see.”
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