KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The release of Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin rocked the team’s fan base, and it should not come as much of surprise that players went through a similar spiral of emotions upon learning the news.
“My first reaction was shock, like I think a lot of guys,” center Mitch Morse said. “You forget that this game at this level is a business.”
The team returned to the practice field for the final round of offseason training activities before next week’s mandatory minicamp. Resuming the offseason routine proved cathartic for most players. It also expedites the process of building new team leaders.
One of Maclin’s first calls after getting word of his release went to fellow receiver Chris Conley, one of the players the organization now replies to grow into a new role.
“Jeremy called me shortly after he got off the phone with the staff here and just let me know he wasn’t going to be here anymore,” Conley said, “that we needed to take the things that he’s taught us and move forward with it, that we know what to do and that we’re ready.”
Conley said work at practice returned to normal quickly for the other receivers.
“I’m still coming out here and doing what they ask me to do,” Conley said.
Second-year receiver Demarcus Robinson agreed.
“I feel like it’s the same as it was when he was here,” Robinson said. “If one guy is down, the next guy has to step up.”
Beyond all the first-down catches and touchdowns, Maclin provided Chiefs players with a template for becoming a professional football player. That extended beyond just the receiver group to the entire team.
Morse credits Maclin for helping him evolve into a professional on the football field.
“When you needed to get your butt into shape and get in line, he’d tell you, and that goes a long way,” Morse said. “He made sure we were on the right path at all times.”
Receiver Tyreek Hill said Maclin’s example off the field helped him through his rookie season.
“I feel like being around Mac off the field really helped me a lot showing me how to be a man, showing me how to be a citizen, showing me how to be a great teammate to my teammates,” Hill said.