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Chris Perkins: Here’s why Chiefs’ Chris Jones was laughing in Dolphins’ locker room after playoff game

MIAMI GARDENS — It was one of the most bizarre scenes I’ve ever seen in a losing playoff locker room.

For a few brief minutes Saturday night, not long, perhaps three or four minutes, one small corner of the Miami Dolphins’ locker room had such a raucous buzz you’d have thought they’d just won their first playoff game in 23 years.

It turns out Dolphins linebacker Justin Houston, who had been with the team for a mere four days, was hosting visitors — longtime friends Chris Jones, the Kansas City All Pro defensive tackle who just helped the Chiefs smoke the Dolphins and end their Super Bowl hopes, and Tamba Hali, the former Chiefs defensive end who was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All Pro.

I’ve never seen anything like it.

It made me wonder whether Dolphins players thought this was disrespectful or inappropriate.

Some did, some didn’t.

“I would have told them to get the (expletive) out,” one offensive player told me Monday as the Dolphins were cleaning out their lockers.

“That would have had me hot.”

One veteran defensive player who was in the locker room while Jones and Hali were there was surprised at their presence.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said.

But he said he understood.

“It was just respect,” he said.

I asked Houston about the situation on Monday, the Dolphins’ locker room cleanout day.

Houston said he didn’t think it was a big deal to have opposing players (technically, one opposing player and one retired player from the opposing team) in the locker room.

Houston, Jones and Hali played together for the Chiefs.

Houston said Jones and Hali were just showing him love.

“When it’s over, it’s over,” Houston said of the season. “You still show love.”

A couple of other Dolphins players said the same thing, including defensive tackle Raekwon Davis.

Davis has known Jones for a long time. They’re homeboys.

Jones is from Houston, Miss., and Davis is from Meridian, Miss.

Davis said Jones was showing respect for Houston.

Davis said he wouldn’t tolerate disrespect in the Dolphins’ locker room.

I get that.

But I was in shock seeing visitors, including a player from the winning team, in the Miami locker room.

The Dolphins just had their dreams crushed, 27-6, at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium in sub-zero temperatures.

And a player from the winning team was in the losing locker room. 

Again, it was only a few minutes, but they were laughing and having a joyous reunion.

Everywhere else in the locker room, there was devastation.

This was my 15th NFL season, and my fifth season being inside a Dolphins locker room after a playoff loss (2000, 2001, 2016, 2022, 2023).

This was my first time seeing an opposing (and winning) player in the losing locker room.

This was my first time seeing laughter in a locker room after a playoff loss. In any sport.

In my 10 seasons covering the NBA, I’d never seen such a thing after a playoff loss.

Locker rooms are sacred ground.

Losing playoff locker rooms are usually restricted to those who were part of the fight.

This was strange.

I don’t want to overstate the situation. 

It was only a brief time, possibly three or four minutes of the perhaps 20 minutes I was in the locker room.

But, wow.

I didn’t want to write about this Sunday because I wasn’t sure how Dolphins defensive players felt.

And quite honestly, even on Sunday, the day after, I still couldn’t believe what I’d witnessed.

I needed to double and triple check the facts.

I didn’t recognize Jones or Hali, so I asked someone who they were.

When I was told, I was in disbelief.

In most NFL visiting locker rooms, offense and defense are in the same room.

In Kansas City, offense and defense are practically separated so many offensive players didn’t even know Jones and Hali were in the locker room.

In fact, another defensive player told me he wasn’t even aware Jones and Hali came into the locker room. He’d left the locker room early to visit family.

He, too, expressed surprise that an opposing player would come into the Dolphins’ locker room after a playoff loss.

In a month of unexpected events for the Dolphins (injuries, back-to-back-to-back losses, extreme weather) seeing a winning Kansas City player in a losing Miami locker room fits right in with everything else.

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