Mahomes was placed in the concussion protocol after absorbing a third-quarter hit during Sunday’s victory over the Cleveland Browns in an AFC divisional-round playoff game. Under the return-to-play provisions of the protocol, Mahomes was subject to a five-step process that included final clearance by an independent medical expert jointly appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association and not affiliated with any team.
“You want to be out there,” Mahomes said. “But you have to go through the protocol and you have to do everything the right way. You have to look at it long term as much as you look at it short term. With going to the doctors, talking to all the doctors and going through the testing, we have the belief that this will be no lingering effects and that I’ll be able to go out there and be myself and be who I am every single week.”
Mahomes participated in practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday but was limited, under the protocol, in what he could do on the field.
“You have to take it day by day,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. You can only control what you can control. And for me, that was coming in every single day with a positive attitude, try to make myself better, prepare myself as if I was going to play. And luckily enough, I haven’t had any symptoms and I’m able to play.”
The Chiefs have not specified whether Mahomes was diagnosed with a concussion. It is possible for a player to be ruled out from returning to a game under the concussion protocol without being diagnosed with a concussion. Either way, the player is subject to the same return-to-play provisions.
Backup Chad Henne finished the Chiefs’ 22-17 victory over the Browns.
“I tried to get up, felt my legs go out,” Mahomes said Friday. “I knew that wasn’t a good thing. So I was able to get grabbed. I remember before going off the field, I was telling the guys, the trainers to let me stay there so Chad could warm up. I knew that we were about to go for it on that fourth down. Then I went into the testing and everything like that.”
The Chiefs are hosting the AFC championship game for the third straight year and are seeking their second consecutive Super Bowl crown. Mahomes also must deal with a toe injury that had him limping noticeably earlier in Sunday’s game.
“It’s feeling a lot better,” he said. “The next day, it was very sore. And then every single day since then, it has gotten a lot better. It’s something that you deal with being a football player. You deal with injuries. And luckily enough for me, it wasn’t as bad as it looked and it felt that day of and the day after.”