Chiefs try setting aside distractions after cornerstone win

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated following an NFL debut happens in movies and dreams, but now it’s the world in which Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt lives after his monstrous first outing against New England in week one.

“It’s a lot of new people around,” Hunt said. “But I keep my circle tight, still talk to the same people and just keep going about my day. I just do what I do.”

The whirlwind surrounding the Chiefs encompassed more than just Hunt. Hundreds of media requests flooded the team for interviews and access to Hunt, Alex Smith, Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson and nearly every other Chiefs player. Family and friends came out of the woodwork too.

Kansas Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt carries the ball against the New England Patriots in the team’s season opener Sept. 7, 2017. (Photo courtesy Chiefs PR,

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill shared a similar experience last season as Hunt faces now. He sees Hunt handling the sudden fame well.

“He’s definitely a different breed,” Hill said. “He continues to come in here each and every day and work compete and just go all out. As a teammate, that’s what you want, to see that from a rookie.”

Smith shared with Hunt the NFL’s FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Week award among his accolades this week. The quarterback also landed AFC offensive player of the week honors. The veteran quarterback tried to take the buzz in stride.

“I just think that if you play long enough you realize how quick things can change,” Smith said in explaining his nonchalance. “One week everybody’s raving about you and how quickly it can flip if you drink the Kool-Aid.”

The Chiefs know first hand what can happen living in the past. Each of the team’s four losses last year followed noteworthy wins.

In week one of the 2016 season, the Chiefs rallied from 21-point deficit for 33-27 overtime win over San Diego. The next week, the Chiefs fell on the road at Houston.

Perhaps more foreboding, the Chiefs beat Oakland 21-13 on a nationally televised Thursday night game. The Tennessee Titans visited Arrowhead Stadium 10 days later, handing Kansas City a 19-17 defeat.

“I’ve certainly seen teams where they play really good and they’re feel so good about themselves and walk into the next week and get smacked in the mouth,” Smith said.

Head coach Andy Reid hopes watching tape of the Eagles caught his team’s attention this week, especially young players such as Hunt.

“When you put on the tape,” Reid said, “and you see how that team plays, the young guys realize every week you better get it tuned up because the margin between winning and losing in this league again is very small and everybody has an opportunity.”

Hunt says he’s trying to stay true to his self even with much suddenly changing around him.

“I’m just going to stay myself, nothing will change,” Hunt said. “I’m not going to make it bigger than what it is. I’m just going to keep going out there and playing football.”

Reid hopes the team’s veteran leaders press upon the younger players must remain ready for anything against the Eagles.

“Everybody on any given Sunday can win the game and our guys have got to make sure that to make sure they’re ready,” Reid said, “and I’ve got some good veteran players that will help with that and the coaches will help remind them of that.”

With all the ruckus going on this week, Hunt didn’t even have time to pick up a copy of his Sports Illustrated cover.

“No, I didn’t pick it up yet,” Hunt said. “Not yet. I think my mom’s trying to pick it up soon.”


Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.