Before any trace of sunlight could be seen in the early-morning sky, 52-year old Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach took his daily trek toward One Arrowhead Drive. As he entered the parking lot, he couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed at the sight of the black 2031 Ford F-150 pickup in its usual spot — plugged into the charging station marked “Head Coach.”
On that day, Veach really thought he had a chance to beat longtime head coach Andy Reid into work — but even at 73 years old, the big man still had an unrivaled work ethic. The multiple Super Bowl titles were still keeping him young.
The day was an important one for Veach. Almost 11 years after he signed quarterback Patrick Mahomes to an unprecedented 10-year contract extension, he would again be at the negotiation table with his star player. Mahomes was entering the last year of his contract — and there was a reason another extension hadn’t yet been completed.
The soon-to-be 36-year old — the face of the NFL — was contemplating retirement.
There was nothing physically hampering him. He had completely recovered from the knee surgery that forced him to miss the 2025 season. His throwing shoulder had started bothering him during 2028 — but he claimed it had been a year since he felt any discomfort. He swore he was still in great physical condition.
It’s wasn’t like his performance had been dropping off. It had been a few years since his last MVP award, but in 2030, he had still led the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns. After his fourth honor, MVP electors seemed to stop casting votes for the Chiefs quarterback; it was as if his play was so consistently dominant that voters had become tired of honoring him.
He still had a fun group of teammates — although they didn’t compare to his original Super Bowl squad. The coming season would mark the sixth since Chiefs tight end — and Mahomes’ best friend — Travis Kelce had retired. He had gone out on top after earning his third Super Bowl ring. Now he was involved in numerous television shows: co-hosting CBS-TV’s “The NFL Today,” hosting the game show “Bamboozled” and producing his original reality show “The Game of Love,” which was based on “The Bachelorette” — except all the contestants were professional athletes.
Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill had lost his blazing speed around the age of 32, which had forced him to retire. He just hadn’t wanted to play if he no longer felt like one of the best players on the field. Following his NFL career, he had become one of the world’s highest-paid NBA 2K players — and one of the most popular figures in the e-sports industry.
Veach settled into his chair across the table from the player he had so strongly championed 14 years before.
“So what is factoring into your desire to step away, Pat?” he asked.
“If I’m being honest,” Mahomes began, “the main motivation is my family.”
By then, Patrick and Brittany Mahomes had two children — one boy and one girl. They were getting just old enough to understand how amazing it was that their dad was one of the best NFL players of all time — but also an age where Mahomes felt the need to spend as much time with them as possible.
“But Pat,” replied Veach, “think about how cool it would be to break those records you’re approaching — with your children there to experience it with you.”
The thought did intrigue Mahomes. Going in to 2031, he had thrown 556 passing touchdowns — third all-time behind Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Drew Brees. His 31st touchdown pass of 2031 would be the record-breaker — a feat that seemed inevitable considering Mahomes had averaged almost 40 touchdowns per season during his career.
He was then two or three seasons away from a shot at the career passing yards mark — but the one statistic he couldn’t ignore was the number of Super Bowl titles he had won. Kansas City had earned four during his career, which was two shy of Brady’s all-time record for a starting quarterback.
He could have had a fifth title, but a dropped touchdown pass late in Super Bowl LIX had prevented him from making his championship game record 5-0. The receiver had been released soon after the costly play. His name was rarely mentioned around the team facility — and some Chiefs blogs (like this one) still prohibited its mention.
“Don’t you want to get to six Super Bowl titles?” Veach argued. “Imagine celebrating that with your family as the confetti falls on the field! I know it was special when they were younger, but they’ll be better able to understand the significance now.”
Mahomes sat back in his chair and thought about it. He had noticed how much fun his kids had with the team. The team’s offensive coordinator (and good friend) Chad Henne had earned the nickname “Uncle Chad” for how much attention he had given Andy and Tammy, who had been named after their godparents. Veteran left tackle Lucas Niang loved to carry one of them on each shoulder and run them around acting like an airplane.
Mahomes closed his eyes, imagining the feeling of reaching those records. The six Super Bowl titles... the most passing touchdowns ever... the all-time record for passing yards... all the goals he had envisioned achieving when he first signed the 10-year extension back in 2020. It seemed so long ago now!
He’d never thought he’d quit before he had reached those goals. And besides... the extra money would help him fund another chair within Texas Tech’s Department of Native and Black American Studies. The program could use another boost a decade after he and Clark Hunt had established it.
He abruptly stood up, grabbing a pen.
“Where do I sign?” he asked.
The two-year extension kept him in Kansas City through 2033, giving him three more opportunities to win a Super Bowl. That was purposeful: Mahomes was going to put everything he had into tying or surpassing Brady and Brees’ career records.
The next morning during the Zoom press conference (which had become standard practice after the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season in which he had again been named Super Bowl MVP), the star quarterback explained the extension with a now-familiar sentiment.
“11 years ago I told Chiefs fans all around the world I was here to stay,” he told reporters. “I’m echoing that same message today. This — the city, the team, the fanbase — is home.”