Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy spent 2020 NFL season in hotel to keep high-risk son safe from COVID-19

Chris Cwik
·3-min read

A number of athletes had to make sacrifices in order to get through 2020. With the COVID-19 pandemic present, players and coaches had to isolate from their families to make sure they didn't bring the virus home.

Kansas City Chiefs coach Eric Bieniemy was among that group. In order to get through the NFL season, Bieniemy decided to stay at a hotel six nights a week to ensure his high-risk son — who has cerebral palsy and respiratory issues — would not contract the virus, according to Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated.

Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy lived in a hotel from July 23 through the Super Bowl to isolate from his wife, Mia, and their two sons. Bieniemy’s older son, Eric III, has cerebral palsy and respiratory issues, making the 26-year-old high risk for contracting COVID-19. To keep him safe, Bieniemy made this private sacrifice for the entirety of the 2020 season: He would stay in a hotel six nights out of the week and only return home on Fridays—but wearing double masks, keeping a distance and sleeping in the basement. “It’s been this way for the past six months,” Bieniemy said before Super Bowl LV. “It’s been a challenge.” The lonely nights were a stark contrast from how 2020 began, with Eric III’s wheelchair parked on a platform inside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Mia whispering play-by-play in his ear as the Chiefs fought their way to a Super Bowl championship.

Bieniemy only returned home Friday night, but he was double masked, kept his distance from his family and slept in the basement. That was the only contact Bieniemy had with his family throughout the 2020 NFL season. The Chiefs made it all the way to the Super Bowl, which was a positive for Bieniemy's career, but also meant he would have to stay away from his family for two more weeks.

Chiefs dealt with COVID-19 cases in 2020

While the Chiefs didn't experience any COVID-19 outbreaks on par with what the Tennessee Titans went through, Kansas City did have a couple COVID scares during the 2020 NFL season. In November, three offensive linemen were placed on the COVID-19/reserve list.

The team also had a scare in February, when a barber who was at the team's facility tested positive for COVID-19. Two players were placed on the COVID-19/reserve list being coming into close contact with the barber. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was scheduled to get a haircut, but did not interact with the barber before the team discovered the positive test.

While COVID-19 remains present in the United States, cases are on the decline as vaccines continue to be distributed around the country. The virus may still be present when the 2021 NFL season begins, but hopefully Bieniemy and the rest of his family will be vaccinated so he can spend the season at home.

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