KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Chiefs players talked football with the media on Wednesday. Following are their comments.
TE TRAVIS KELCE
Q: How has it been as a World Champion? Has it been everything you thought, more or less?
KELCE: “I think for the most part, it’s still been pretty surreal. I think the quarantine as made it almost like it was a dream because we haven’t been able to go out and be with our family members and visit everyone like we would if it wasn’t like this, but all in all, the biggest thing is that it’s very motivating. It’s very motivating to be able to do it again. I’ve already got the competitive mindset to gear up and start this thing all over again, to help recreate this team’s identity. And moving forward, we’re just excited because we have a lot of the pieces coming back.”
Q: How do you keep that hunger? How do you keep that fire going?
KELCE: “It’s ingrained in this team to fight, man, and to battle their tails off, to work their tails off. Everybody that we played with last year on the Chiefs, they made it fun to come into the office. We all enjoy being around each other, and I don’t see that chemistry changing or that camaraderie changing at all, especially with the leaders that we have coming back.”
Q: What gives you confidence with this current environment that you are going to be locked in and a step ahead? What gives you confidence that this group is going to be ready and going to handle this the right way?
KELCE: “One, the leaders, the leaders on this team and that includes Head Coach Andy Reid at the top. His scheduling, how he’s going about this whole quarantine and the virtual meetings and everything, nothing has really changed in terms of the bulk or the load of installs, the load of information that you’re going to have to be ready for once we do get out on the field. Yeah, it makes it a little bit tougher. You don’t get the opportunity to go out there and run these plays, especially the new plays the offensive minds have put together. It’s going to be a little difficult to catch up once we get out on the field and actually be able to perform these plays, but I think it’s, for the most part, the locker room guys, the core guys, everyone has the mentality of ‘We have to do this again.’ Last year doesn’t mean a thing. I don’t want to say we’ve erased it because it’s still, you know, it’s still fresh on our minds. But at the same time, it builds confidence and it builds some competitiveness to be able to repeat.”
Q: Can you talk about way this team grew last season and how that helps going into 2020?
KELCE: “Obviously, we started off with a bang, coming out and putting up 40 on Jacksonville, or however much we put up, but even from there, handling the ups and downs, handling the adversity throughout games, handling how we’re going to change the schemes at halftime. All in all, just believing in each other. All that takes it’s course to the end of the season, and then the playoffs almost start as a brand new season because you had to refocus your mindset because now it’s one-and-done. It’s an entirely different level of competitiveness. It’s a different level of accountability and what you’re doing in the office. I really think that we grew. Obviously, you can noticeably see the defense grow. Coach Spags (Steve Spagnuolo), Honey Badger (Tyrann Mathieu), 55 (Frank Clark), these guys helped mold what ended up being a championship defense. Not a lot of people saw that in the beginning, but as a player, you saw how hard everyone works throughout the week, day-to-day. You could see everyone getting better. It’s not that they weren’t good in the beginning. It was a chemistry. It was making sure that I’m being accountable for the guy next to me, knowing what the guy next to me is doing. So, it’s not that anybody was worse in the beginning of the season, it was just coming together, knowing that we had a new system. And we had a new way of doing things and just growing with that. And then on the offensive side of the ball, trying to minimize the mistakes. Trying to give Pat (Patrick Mahomes) the opportunity to throw the ball and stay on time as routes develop over the course of the season and just making sure we’re getting the ball down field and we’re putting up six because three points can get you in trouble.”
DE TACO CHARLTON
Q: What made the culture at the Chiefs attractive, and what did college teammate Frank Clark tell you about the team?
CHARLTON: “Yeah, it was a place I was looking forward to coming sort of right off waivers. So, once I cleared, me and Frank were on the phone, we were talking. Like I said, that’s why nothing else mattered to me, money-wise, nothing really mattered. I just wanted to play football, wanted to go to a good situation where I could play some good football and feel like I could add myself to a good defense.”
Q: With the opportunity to join the defending Super Bowl champions, and knowing that team continuity might be very important this upcoming season, how have you used this quarantine time to improve yourself as a player?
CHARLTON: “The good thing with me is I’ve got a home gym. I was able to add more to my home gym, and I’m still able to get a good amount of work in. And then my d-line coach is still out here in Dallas, so I’m still able to train and get a lot of work in during my quarantine. So, I’m staying in the house as much as possible, but I can work out in the house and still get a lot of work in, which is a good benefit for me.”
Q: What do you know Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and his scheme? Have you heard anything that you like or is attractive to you? Or was this more about joining the organization overall?
CHARLTON: “It was everything about the organization, from hearing how great of a coach (Head) Coach Reid is. Then once I talked to Frank, he told me how great of a coach (Defensive Coordinator) Coach Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) is, how great of a person he is, and how I’d like to play for him. That’s all I needed. Once I saw that, once I got the chance myself to talk to him and talk to (Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line) Coach (Brendan) Daly, I was all comfortable with coming here and excited to see what I can bring here to Kansas City.”
Q: How would you describe your relationship with Frank Clark? Seems like you guys are close, but how similar are you on-the-field, off-the-field?
CHARLTON: “Me and Frank, we’re real close. Like my brother, like my big brother. He’s a person who at Michigan, he kind of took me under his wing and guided me. We continue that friendship and brotherhood whenever he left. We talk all the time. When I come to LA, I’m usually with him, or I go see him, link up with him, whatever it may be. We try to train with each other sometime during the offseason, or see each other, whatever it may be. Our friendship, our brotherhood has always been there. We always used to joke around about us playing with each other again if me and him had the opportunity. So now we have the opportunity to play with each other again and do something special. I definitely was on board with that and like I said, I’m excited.”
DE FRANK CLARK
Q: You seem to go on and off with social media, but you came back to let people know that you were going to make Taco Charlton into a legend. What was your thought process behind that?
CLARK: “I feel like a lot of people are doubting Taco and for the first part of his career it hasn’t been to the standard that I’m sure he would want it to be. He’s had some great highlights and he’s done some good things in this league, but he has yet to do what I know he wants to do. Me and him being close friends we have a lot of talks and we talk about a lot of things and he’s been my bro since Michigan days. I spent a significant amount of time with him there. Actually, I call myself a leader and everything I’ve done. At Michigan I made a lot of mistakes but on that football field I did my share of leading those guys. One thing I did in that position room is change the way the position was being played, the rush in, and Taco followed suit. He listens and he does great things. I’m just excited. I’m excited to see what he’s going to do. Like I said, I want to turn him into a legend. First, just show him my work ethic. Show him how we do things with the Chiefs. It’s a certain standard that Coach Reid has us mounted to. There are certain things that you have to be able to live up to here. We’re the champs. We’re defending our ring and there’s going to be some standards that he has to live up to coming into that room.”
Q: During Easter you did a pretty remarkable thing. Would you talk about going out and helping on Skid Row and why you decided to do that?
CLARK: “I do a lot down there, more than I really make public or would ask for credit for. I don’t really want credit for what I do down there. I actually used to live down there. Growing up in Los Angeles, I actually spent a large portion of my life on Skid Row, particularly at the Union Mission the shelter down there. Particularly around that time, I had done it plenty of times before then, but on that time at Easter it was just in my heart. I woke up with it in my heart. I didn’t plan on doing it on Easter. I had just went down there a few days before with a few friends and we had passed out some food and some clothes and some cleaning supplies, but I just woke up that morning and it was on my heart. My family was up cooking and stuff and I just let them know I’d be back later, and I was about to go down and help with downtown. I just said I’ll be back, basically. I just left and the first place I thought of was a pizza spot. I ended up going to Little Caesars pizza, shout out to them because they did a great job. I actually went in there and I was like, ‘I need as many pizzas as you can give me’ and they were like ‘What?’ and I was like ‘Can I get 100 pizzas?” and they were like, ‘What? No, we don’t have 100.’ and there was like a line of people. I’m begging people to let me get in front of them and I’ll buy their pizzas. I’m like ‘Please!’ because it was about to close. I was like “I just need these orders please. I’m about to go down and feed the people.’ and they ended up being able to give me 55 pizzas, which is crazy. 55 pizzas, my number. They gave me 55 pizzas.
I asked for as many as they could give me and they gave me 55 and I was like ‘What? That’s a coincidence. That’s crazy.’ So they gave me 55 pizzas and I went down there, me and my friend Nick Glass. We went down there and he helped me pass out the food to the homeless. We made sure we wore our protective stuff, but I feel like I’m more in touch with them than the average person. Just being down there and spending time down there I know the streets, I know the back streets, the alleys. So, it was one of those things.”
Q: How did you view your 2019 performance and what do you see for yourself in 2020?
CLARK: “I feel like it went alright. That’s every year I feel. It will never be what you want it to be, you have to set your goals high. That’s what I do all the time. Realistically, myself I’ll never tell anybody my actual goal. It’s either met or not met. Like, my goal is to break the sack record. I’ve been telling myself I want to break the sack record for the last two years, but things come with that, everyday stuff. I might get injured, I might tweak this, that might prohibit me or slow me down. So, it’s certain things like that that will always be my goal. Setting the single-season forced fumble record, things like that. You have goals, winning five Super Bowls. You have to set your goals high because what else are you working for. You have some people that set their goals as ‘I want to make it to the Super Bowl’ or ‘I want to make it to the NFL’ and I ask them ‘Well, what do you want to do after that? What’s next?’ and some guys fall short of that long-term success because they don’t have that ‘What’s Next?’ I feel like that’s what 2020 has in store. That ‘What’s Next?’ factor. What’s next? What do you want to do next, Frank? I wanna start my clothing line. I want to win more Super Bowls. I want to help my younger guys. I want to bring the younger guys along. I want to create more and do more things special.”
Q: When you guys do this virtual workout program what excites you most with the core of the guys being back, with Steve Spagnuolo and what about watching yourself early last season will help you for this season?
CLARK: “Number one when you get a chance to get your guys back, your core, that’s dope. The one thing you always want to see is your boys. The same team you went through it with. You all did that camp. Once you go through that camp together it’s like we solid, we dogs. You love to see guys who go on to success and they go off and get what they deserve as far as contracts and they do things that way. Hats off to those guys. We lost one from our room, one of our main guys Emmanuel Ogbah. That was my dog. He contributed so much. We might not have thought about it, but the time when he started contributing was the time where myself, I’m hurt and not really saying nothing but fighting through it every game, and then you got Alex Okafor, he’s hurt, he’s out at the time. He stepped in and he was doing his part contributing big. He was playing better football than me at the time. So, he was picking up a lot of slack for guys, honestly as a back up defensive end, then eventually became a starter once AO (Alex Okafor) got hurt. So, it’s hard, but also like you said we get our group back and I look forward to going back to the spot and seeing all my guys in that locker room. Us being able to reminisce and talk about it and then being able to have the desire to want more. We all understand. We’ve been there, so it’s not like 50% of your team got shipped off or this happened or the coaching staff, this happens. No, everybody’s back and it’s like you said the foundation is back and we get to revisit it. Like I said, have a short memory about it and then get back on the road because that’s the goal to get back on the road and keep it going.”