NFL QB turned down endorsement money until he could prove himself on field


For many football players, getting selected in the first round of the NFL draft is a life-changing event.

Among NFL fans, at least, first-round draft picks are often household names. Their image and likeness are valuable too, as players are able to use their newfound recognition to bring in some extra cash from endorsement deals.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, though, wasn’t interested in any of that, at least not in his rookie season.

The Chiefs took Mahomes, a Texas Tech product, with the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft. They meant for him to be their quarterback of the future, just maybe not their quarterback of the present.

Kansas City, you see, already had a quarterback. Alex Smith might not make flashy plays, but he’s relatively accurate, doesn’t throw many interceptions and was generally solid over his five seasons with the Chiefs.

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As a result, Mahomes was stuck in a back-up role, and he and his agent, Leigh Steinberg, decided it would be best for him to keep a low profile.

“I talked through with him the process of maturation and process of integration that many of our quarterbacks have went through, whether it was Troy Aikman or Steve Young or Warren Moon,” Steinberg told ESPN. “We talked about how the first year the goal was to integrate into the team, and the only way to do that is to pay deference to the incumbent veterans and try not to go into the situation with a high profile.”

Part of keeping that low profile meant turning down endorsement money.

“We intentionally didn’t do endorsements that would run in the Kansas City area even though they were offered. We didn’t want him to be on billboards and everything when he wasn’t even playing,” Steinberg said.

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Mahomes himself admitted that as a rookie, his job was to be seen but not heard.

“That’s the same for every rookie,” he told ESPN. “Every rookie, you come in and you just try to work hard and kind of keep your head down, I guess you would say, and just try to prove to the team that you’re trying to do whatever is best for the team.”

With Smith having been traded to Washington in the offseason and Mahomes set to start under center, it’s time for that strategy to change.

Mahomes is done being quiet. He’s been seen in public more frequently since the Smith trade, and he knows it’s his time to shine.

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“That just comes with the relationship you build with the guys off the field and on the field. Whenever you have respect for each other and you know that you’re trying to make the team the best you can, and you know he’s trying to make the team win, you can talk to each other and say things to each other and you respect that,” he said.

“That comes with all of this offseason work, the weight room, the running. If you’re giving it your all every single day, people will respect you and respect whenever you say anything on the field.”

So far, his teammates have been impressed by his passion and confidence.

“He’s always been confident from the time I’ve known him,” safety Eric Berry said. “He’s been sure of himself and he’s come out and made plays. So nothing’s really changed except now he’s with (the starters).”

“It’s just his preparation,” tight end Travis Kelce added. “He was ready at any point in time to go into that game and try to win for us. It’s all based off his preparation and how he went about his week-to-week work.”

The regular season doesn’t start for several months, but right now, Mahomes said he’s enjoying immersing himself in the culture of Kansas City.

“It’s being able to be a part of the community. For me, I like being in the community of Kansas City. People are extremely nice and extremely passionate about the Chiefs and just about their culture. For me to just try to be a part of that and just immerse myself in the culture has been an awesome experience so far,” he said.

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Joe Setyon was a deputy managing editor for The Western Journal who had spent his entire professional career in editing and reporting. He previously worked in Washington, D.C., as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine.
Joe Setyon was deputy managing editor for The Western Journal with several years of copy editing and reporting experience. He graduated with a degree in communication studies from Grove City College, where he served as managing editor of the student-run newspaper. Joe previously worked as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine, a libertarian publication in Washington, D.C., where he covered politics and wrote about government waste and abuse.
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