Patrick Mahomes told reporters Wednesday that his embrace with Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore following Monday's game was "a little bit of a mental lapse" on his part and he was just trying to show sportsmanship after the win.
The image of Mahomes and Gilmore together was widely shared Wednesday morning after news broke that Gilmore tested positive for COVID-19.
The game between the Chiefs and Patriots, originally scheduled for this past Sunday, was rescheduled to Monday after Patriots quarterback Cam Newton and Chiefs practice squad QB Jordan Ta'amu tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Zero Chiefs players or staff have tested positive for COVID-19 following Tuesday's round of tests, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, and Mahomes told reporters he has taken extra precautions since this weekend including sleeping in a separate bedroom from his pregnant fiance.
"It's a different time. I think that's the biggest thing," Mahomes said. "We knew that coming into the season. 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. You just trust that the protocols in place are the right protocols. Like I said obviously with Brittany being pregnant I try to do whatever I can to social distance and stay away. It's being available for the team, but even more for me just keeping my family safe. I just to my best part to stay socially distant. That little lapse at the end of the game. Just trying to show respect to a great football player who I hope is getting better very quickly. I'll try to keep away from that and try not to do it again."
Pelissero reported the Chiefs would be permitted to practice on Wednesday under the supplemental intensive protocols, including mandatory use of PPE by players in practice. The Patriots' facility is closed Wednesday and Thursday.
The news of Gilmore's positive test and the Titans' facility continuing to remain closed following two additional Titans players testing positive for COVID-19 was a topic around NFL news conferences Wednesday.
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward, whose team's Week 4 game against the Titans was rescheduled to later in the season, told reporters its important that everyone follows protocols in order to limit the potential for an outbreak on a team.
"To think we weren't going to have positive tests is ludicrous," said Heyward, who is the Steelers' NFLPA rep. "We're trying to wear masks, we're trying to social distance. You're trying to adhere to the protocols and just follow. I can only preach it to the young guys and the other guys as well. When you leave this facility, that has a lasting effect on our team. Everybody's got to do their job. I don't know how it transpired in Tennessee or these other places. But there's going to be more positives. It's our job to minimize the amount that takes over a team. The things we have done to really change that are adding to our practice squad because we understand there are going to be positives. If there's not, it's not a true pandemic. One guy gets it, or two guys gets it, we're able to respond accordingly, but when an entire team and it spreads throughout the coaching staff and team, it's going to be hard to deal with the effects of that."
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was direct in his message Wednesday.
"To me, it's not that damn hard," he said. "Just wear your mask. We all want to play football. So, everybody's got to do it."