“To me it was more of a personal decision, with having a baby girl and knowing that I was going to be around people,” the Kansas City quarterback told reporters from the Chiefs’ facility during an online media session. “I wanted to make sure I could do whatever I could to help keep her healthy.”
Mahomes added that he thought getting vaccinated was “a personal decision for everybody.”
“I mean, whatever you believe, I think you can do whatever that is,” he said, “and we’ll figure out the best way to keep each other healthy by social distancing and doing whatever it is, whenever we can in this building.”
Mahomes has been in his team’s building regularly since undergoing toe surgery shortly after the Chiefs lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in February’s Super Bowl. He has also been adjusting to life as a first-time father after fiancee Brittany Matthews gave birth to their daughter later that month.
“I’ve had to learn a lot there,” Mahomes declared Monday, “probably more than I’ve learned in my entire life until now, of how to raise a little baby girl and try to give her the best opportunity and the best life possible.”
Praising his fiancee as “a champ,” the 2020 Super Bowl MVP said, “She’s kind of doing it all. I’m like the cheerleader on the sideline, just asking her what I need to do. But it’s a special thing. You want to be around [the baby] as much as possible.”
At some point, Mahomes will be around many people at the Chiefs’ facility, which he said would be “crazy.” He noted that there were “only a couple of people” in his vicinity Monday when he was waiting inside the building for test results to be processed.
As for when the whole team will regroup, that remains to be seen, according to the fifth-year quarterback. He said he and others have been in talks with the NFL Players Association about offseason attendance, with a goal of “trying to figure out what’s best not only for us but for the entire league.”
The NFLPA cited the pandemic last week in advising players not to attend voluntary offseason workouts in person. The union wants the entire offseason to be virtual, just as it was last year, but as outlined in a memo the NFL sent teams last week, it would prefer a virtual-only approach for just Phase 1 of the offseason, which runs through May 14.
Mahomes noted Monday that the current all-virtual period gives him and other players “time to figure it out in the next couple of weeks.”
Players from at least 15 other NFL organizations have already issued team-wide statements asserting their intentions to sit out voluntary workouts slated to take place in person.
“We know that every player has a decision to make that is best for him, but to stand in solidarity with the brotherhood of players across the NFL, we have decided to come together on this choice,” members of the Philadelphia Eagles said on Sunday. “The ongoing pandemic is obviously still an issue for our city and our country, and it is unnecessary for us to put ourselves at risk in this environment.”
In a separate memo last week from the NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell emphasized to teams that the consensus in the medical community is that vaccinations are “the most effective way” to avoid the risk of contracting covid-19 or giving it to others. He said that team staffers who refuse to be vaccinated will be denied levels of official status that would allow them direct access to players and to “football only” areas.
“Educate your employees and communicate to them the work-related benefits of vaccination,” Goodell wrote to team executives. “Those benefits include not being tested, not being required to wear a tracking device, not being considered a high-risk close contact, not being required to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19, and greater flexibility outside the facility.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver struck a similar note in March, when he said that his league would not mandate players be vaccinated but would remind them that doing so could free them of some “incredibly burdensome” protocols.
The NBA’s initial outreach to players about getting vaccinated was not enthusiastically received, ESPN reported in February, citing sources. Silver noted the month before that while Black communities have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, members of those communities have had “understandable historical reasons” for skepticism about such types of governmental programs.
Since then, a number of players from teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans have made it known they were getting vaccinated. A prominent teammate of Mahomes, safety Tyrann Mathieu, said Monday he was “hoping that I could do it soon, but obviously it’s a choice for everybody.”
“I think everybody has different perspectives on it, but I think at the end of the day it’s all about trying to put yourself in the best position to live a healthy life going forward, and then all the people around you,” Mathieu told reporters. “So I’m hoping I can get to that. I’m still kind of going through the process, me and my family, but I’m hoping we can do it.”
Chiefs Coach Andy Reid said that approximately 18 players had been vaccinated, as had he, and that more staff members would have a chance to get doses on Tuesday.
“I think the more we can push towards that, I think that’s a positive,” said the 63-year-old coach. “I don’t want anybody to get sick, and I surely don’t want anybody to pass away, so I think in certain situations a vaccine becomes important.”