Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach had been asked an entirely different question during his Tuesday session with reporters — one about the rookies he had brought to the team in 2020 — but first, he had to circle back and make another point about quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“We were literally in the training room the other day,” recalled Veach, “and out of nowhere — I mean, this is Pat, getting ready to play the Super Bowl MVP — he bumped [into] me and said, ‘How’s Lucas Niang doing?’”
The Chiefs had drafted the former Texas Christian offensive lineman in the third round of the NFL Draft last spring. But he’s been unavailable to the team after becoming the only rookie to exercise his option to sit out the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“You’d think he’d have a million things on his mind,” marveled Veach. “But to ask me on Monday morning how Niang is doing?”
Veach had already raved about how Mahomes has adjusted to being the face of the league.
“In regard to having success — or not having success — people change who they are and how they do things,” he noted. “After being a league MVP in 2018, coming back and being a Super Bowl MVP in 2019, the contract and all the different corporate sponsors pulling at him — and I mean this genuinely — he’s still the same person.
“He’s still, ‘Yes sir, no sir’ to the coaches. He still treats people with the utmost respect. He knows that he has a responsibility that’s bigger than just football on Sundays — that people look up to him. He’s embraced that; he’s embraced all of these different obligations with the same type of humility and grace.”
And in Veach’s view, that makes him similar to Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
“People are always talking about Andy never being too high or too low,” said Veach. “Pat’s always too high. He’s always energetic and exciting — but similar in the sense that he’s always the same person: you’re not getting a Patrick on a Monday versus a Patrick on a Sunday. You’re getting the same person every day — a lot of energy, a lot of excitement. He loves being part of the gang — joking around, goofing around — but [he’s] so super-serious when it comes to study and being competitive on Sunday.”
That is indeed similar to what we have observed about Reid: that no matter the situation or challenge before his team, he remains on an even keel, focusing on the preparation for the next game — whether it’s against a winless team during the regular season or against the NFC champion for his second consecutive league championship.
“He’s so detailed,” Veach said of the coach with whom he has served since becoming a coaching intern with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004. “He’s such a technician. He loves having his hands on [the team]. He loves coaching. At the end of the day, he always says he’s a teacher.”
And paramount in what Reid teaches is the idea that everyone on the team is part of a family — one in which everyone supports and protects each other.
“That’s what ‘team’ is all about,” said Reid as the Chiefs prepared for the postseason. “Listen, we all come from different places — and it doesn’t matter religion or color or anything else, we’re humans and I think we have an opportunity to look at the best of each other. And like I’ve told you before, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Every human has that: their strength and weakness. Our objective as a football team is [that] your strength is going to cover up my weakness, my strength will cover up your weakness — and we go roll.”
Under Reid and Mahomes — and more recent team acquisitions like safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive end Frank Clark — the attitude has permeated throughout the locker room.
“Everybody respects each other,” said tight end Travis Kelce before the Chiefs met the Cleveland Browns. “That’s the biggest thing: that everybody respects each other as a man — and then on top of that, there’s a culture here. I don’t want to say [it’s] ‘strictly business’ because we are every bit a brotherhood and a family — but at the same time, we don’t let those little things divide us.”
Kelce said this manifests itself in the way the team plays on the field.
“That’s why I truly believe that when adversity hits, you see us just gear up another notch and get a little bit better — because we believe in each other and we believe in what we stand for.”