KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes will report to training camp with the Chiefs’ other quarterbacks and rookies on Friday.
This year, camp is expected to be much different than last year, during the height of the pandemic.
First of all, the Kansas City Chiefs will return to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph to hold camp. In 2020, the team held camp at its training facility near Arrowhead.
Another difference between this year and 2020 is that fans will be allowed to watch the team in limited capacity. While the Chiefs look forward to fans, a crowd of people also increases the chances of spreading COVID-19 to others.
“I think the league has very strict protocols and kinda the tiering system and who is exposed to what, the distances between certain fans and players and so I think they’ve done everything they can to control transmission the situations,” Dr. Paul Schroeppel, Chiefs team orthopedic surgeon, said during an update with the University of Kansas Health System.
Those protocols include doing away with autographs, meet-and-greet sessions, and other special events that have been offered to fans during training camp in the past.
Last year, players were tested every day. There was also a lot of contact tracing underway in case a team member ended up with a positive case of COVID-19. Camp will be different for the players this year too, according to Dr. Schroeppel.
“Thankfully, some of those are relaxed a little bit, the league is really, in an effort to encourage vaccinations, has tried to change the regulations based on, you know, your vaccination status,” Schroeppel said.
While the NFL is encouraging vaccinations, players are not required to get them before reporting to training camp.
In an agreement between the league and the player’s association, unvaccinated players are required to get a daily COVID-19 test. Unvaccinated players will also be required to wear masks and physically distance during training camp. The agreement said unvaccinated players won’t be allowed to eat meals with teammates, can’t use the sauna or steam room, and may not leave the hotel or interact with people outside the team during trips.
Vaccinated players will not have any of those restrictions, according to a memo sent to teams last month that was obtained by The Associated Press.
Schroeppel said just because the NFL has a set of requirements at training camp, it doesn’t mean things won’t change if the pandemic gets worse.
“I think they’re constantly kind of morphing their protocols and regulations based on the current environment. Dr. Alan Sills, who heads up the medical team for the NFL, does an exceptional job. And, you know, I think, you know, there may be some changes depending on what happens with those numbers,” Schroeppel said.
The first practice for the Chiefs is Wednesday, July 28. The session is only open to season ticket members. The first practice that is open to the public is Thursday, July 29. While many practices are free, a ticket for each person is required. Tickets must be reserved online through the Chiefs website.