Immediately after the Kansas City Chiefs sealed their 38-35 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII, backup quarterback Chad Henne announced his retirement via Instagram with a now iconic image of him drinking a beer on the field.
The 13-year veteran joined the Chiefs in 2018 when the team turned the franchise over to an untested quarterback named Patrick Mahomes. He will be remembered among Chiefs fans for two clutch performances in playoff games when called upon as an injury replacement for the superstar.
Without Henne’s second-quarter heroics in the Divisional Round’s 27-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars — while Mahomes was having an ankle injury treated — the Chiefs likely would not be preparing for a Super Bowl parade.
Henne discussed his retirement on this week’s episode of The Adam Schefter Podcast. While many assume that holding a clipboard for the best quarterback in the league is an easy job, the 37-year-old Henne explained to the ESPN insider that even a reserve role takes a toll — and requires a sacrifice of time.
“Just when you wake up — and your body’s not feeling right each and every day. And you’ve got to do the stretches that not a lot of people have to do when you’re young, just to get the body going and your mind mentally going. I think you just know it’s time. My kids are at the age — they’re at nine and seven right now — I just wanted to be a part of their lives as well.”
Many successful NFL head coaches were once backup quarterbacks — including Jaguars coach Doug Pederson, who played for Chiefs head coach Andy Reid in Philadelphia. While Henne plans to work with quarterbacks, fans should not expect to see him on a coaching staff.
“I definitely want to get into the training quarterbacks situation...I have so much knowledge to give out that I feel like it would be a waste for me not to be around it. I would love to coach, but I think that’s too many hours on my plate. I just want to be around my family and spend time with them.”
Naturally, the conversation turned to working with the league’s top player. Henne showed no hesitation in identifying when he realized Mahomes is a special player.
“Day one. Just seeing him flick the ball. His spatial awareness on the field [and] his leadership qualities really stood out to me from the beginning. As a young quarterback, it’s tough for guys to really command a team and an offense at a young age, and he stepped into that role so easily. It’s unreal what he does. We see it in practice each and every day — and it comes to life on Sundays.”
Having shared the quarterback room with Mahomes for five seasons, however, the retiring Henne also took the opportunity to identify a little-seen side of the 2022 league MVP.
“The superstitions. You know baseball background...He has to have a certain thing each and every day. He comes in, he does his work, [and] his notes are written out a certain way. Same pair of underwear — which probably not a lot of people know.
“On game day — he’s been wearing it since I’ve been a part of it. This will definitely be enlightening. He’ll be like ‘What the hell? You’re checking my underwear out?’ But there’s things I’ve seen that nobody else has seen.
“But his preparation is unbelievable — how he goes about it. He knows exactly how many plays are in each section on Andy Reid’s call sheet. And if it’s off by one play — it’s going to be mentioned this week. He dives into it deeply, and it’s fun to watch each and every day.”
Henne entered the league with the Miami Dolphins as a second-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. He played for two head coaches in four seasons with the Dolphins. He also had three different head coaches in five seasons as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He appeared to appreciate the stability of closing his career playing for Reid.
“It’s always one quote: ‘Let your personality show.’ [Reid] ends the meeting right before he says, ‘I’ll treat you to a cheeseburger on Saturday night.’ That always resonated with me because there were many times in my career that teams [and] coaches were so uptight — so involved in trying to win — that it took away a lot of personalities on our team. I think that always stood with me. ‘Let your personality show.’ Just be you. You don’t have to be anything other than you when you step on the field. I’ll take that from here on out in my life. I’ll be myself each and every day — and if you like or you don’t, I’ll be happy with myself.”