- August 31, 2021
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A barber the Chiefs brought in to give players fresh haircuts for Super Bowl week tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, jeopardizing the statuses of wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and center Daniel Kilgore’s for the big game, according to an NFL Network report.
The barber tested negative for five consecutive days before he was allowed to enter the facility, according to the report, but his Sunday morning rapid test result was “delayed briefly because of a line of friends and family also getting tested.” So the barber was allowed to enter Kansas City’s facility to cut hair before the test result came back.
Kilgore reportedly was the first player in line waiting for haircuts and was in the chair when the positive result came back. The barber was immediately removed and told NFL officials in a follow up interview that he’d also cut Robinson’s hair the previous day away from the facility.
The Chiefs aren’t traveling to Tampa for Super Bowl LV until Saturday.
Both Robinson and Kilgore reportedly were wearing masks during their haircuts, as was the barber, who was reportedly wearing double PPE (personal protective equipment) while cutting Kilgore’s hair. But the duration and proximity of contact rendered Robinson and Kilgore high-risk close contacts who require a mandatory minimum five days of isolation.
Neither player will be able to practice this week. If both players continue to test negative, they will be able to play in the Super Bowl. If any player tests positive on either the Chiefs or the Bucs from here on, he would be ruled out of the game entirely.
Players are being tested for COVID-19 twice daily in advance of Super Bowl LV. No player on either team has tested positive in more than a week, including no Chiefs positives in Monday’s round of testing, per NFL Network.
A Dec. 15 NFL memo to clubs highlighted outside service providers as a specific area of continued concern for COVID-19 exposure:
“In an effort to reduce community risk to the players and other club personnel, clubs are strongly encouraged to arrange for testing of cohabitants and non-club service providers through the club via BRL [BioReference Laboratories], effective immediately,” the NFL said.
Under the heading “Testing Protocol Change: Friends, Family and Service Provider Testing,” the league’s management council, football operations, and player and health and safety wrote: “Even as infection rates decreased across the league during the last two weeks, we continue to see community exposure as the primary means of infection for club personnel. Two specific populations frequently contribute to positive cases: (i) player cohabitants; and (ii) non-club service providers such as barbers, personal chefs, chiropractors, masseuses and stretching assistants who are employed by individual players.”
Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill told TMZ recently of the Super Bowl lead-up: “The Chiefs are bringing in barbers to the facility and getting them tested. So, like, they are really following protocol.”
“We’ve been hammering this point home forever,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday of reminding players to follow protocols, before the news of the positive barber test broke on Tuesday morning. “The problem is you’re fighting the invisible man. It gets you when least expected, and we’re seeing that everywhere. It’s an unfortunate thing. These guys were being as safe as they could be. So we’ll just see how it goes.”
“It’s a tough situation,” Reid added. “You’re fighting germs. They’re hard to see, man.”
Players are also responsible for their own actions outside of a team’s facility, as well.
Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski, for example, said he drove to Fort Myers, Fla., on Sunday to visit his mom because the team had an off day.
Obviously there are precautions a player like Gronkowski can take to ensure he can make such a visit safely. But the stakes are higher than ever this week, and no one wants to be in the Chiefs’ position now: crossing their fingers and hoping a test doesn’t turn up positive.