NFL opener: Chiefs fans prepare for ‘new normal’
WICHITA, Kan. (AP/KWCH) - The NFL opens its season Thursday night in Kansas City, where the Super Bowl champion Chiefs host the Houston Texans. The game features two teams intimately familiar with each other, and each led by dynamic, young quarterbacks in the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes and the Texans’ Deshaun Watson.
The Chiefs rallied from a 24-0 hole to beat Houston in the divisional round of the playoffs, but both teams have changed plenty in the eight months since that January day.
The coronavirus pandemic effectively canceled the entire NFL offseason along with all four preseason games. That means their rematch at Arrowhead Stadium will be the first game for anybody since February. It also means the crowd at what is historically one of the toughest road venues in the league will be limited to about 17,000 fans, who must adhere to coronavirus restrictions requiring masks and social distancing.
Much like the fans inside Arrowhead Stadium, anyone going out to watch Thursday night’s game will have to wear a mask. At Chicken-N-Pickle in east Wichita, you can take it off once you get to one of the socially distanced tables or in the bar area. Staff members say with all of the safety precautions in place, there are no excuses why you can’t come out and enjoy the game.
“There’s sanitizing stations all over the property. We have gloves available to the staff, we have masks available for guests. If they want to come in and they don’t have their own mask, we can provide one,” said bartender Chris Hernandez.
General manager Kelsey Rockett said everyone is still adjusting to the new normal, but she’s ready to see Chiefs fans.
“This is huge. It’s kind of our way to get back to a sense of normalcy. You know? Everybody has been in such a weird situation. Everybody’s been affected by this. But this is what happened last year, it’s going to continue to happen for us every single Chiefs game. Again, it’s just us getting back to what normal is going to be now,” Rockett said.
The Chiefs take on the Texans at 7 p.m. in Kansas City.
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