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On the morning of June 4, Bryndon Minter was on the way to Chick-fil-A, headed to get some breakfast, when a few texts led to a cell phone discussion with Jacquelyn Dahl, the advertising and marketing agent for Patrick Mahomes.
Minter was excited. New Orleans Saints star Michael Thomas had already reached out to the Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback about participating in a video that would involve other NFL stars affirming that black lives indeed matter. Thomas already told Minter, his collaborator on the project, that Mahomes was interested in joining them. But the reigning Super Bowl MVP had a few questions, and Dahl was charged with getting answers.
Minter knew that if the call went well, the project could be a huge hit. Mahomes was the new face of the league, and as Minter began talking to Dahl, their conversation continuing through the drive-thru, he hoped his previous experience working with her and the rest of Mahomes’ team would pay off.
“My team, on the NFL side, helps produce videos with Pat, videos for plenty of NFL talent,” Minter said. “And Patrick’s team, having worked with [our team previously], from that point on felt comfortable to at least reach out ... and discuss more details.”
Dahl wanted to know about the video’s message and tone. Minter explained all the themes; the players would not only team up to ask the NFL to condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people, they would also ask the league to admit it previously silenced players from peacefully protesting and affirm it, saying, “Black Lives Matter.”
She said she’d get back to him.
“Yeah, it definitely felt like there was excitement,” Minter said of the conversation. “A lot of credit has to go to his team ... and obviously a lot of credit goes to Patrick. The message resonated with him.”
Star players speaking out on major social issues isn’t a given in the NFL, but Mahomes’ interest in doing so on this particular one makes sense. The son of a white mother and black father, the 24-year-old also put out a statement early last week condemning “the senseless murders that we have witnessed” amid nationwide outrage about the death of George Floyd during an encounter with Minneapolis police.
Yet, Minter knew the script Mahomes, who is up for a new contract in Kansas City, would be reading for the project also had heavy themes that could be branded “political”, themes that past superstar athletes (think Michael Jordan in his prime) have shied away from speaking on, lest they risk alienating a portion of their fan base.
So when Dahl got back to Minter shortly thereafter and confirmed Mahomes was in, Minter couldn’t have been more impressed.
“I was hyped,” Minter said. “In a contract negotiation offseason, to have the courage to put his neck out on the line with the collective group is just really inspiring.
“And to see that with a player with such regard as Patrick, that really is the most marketable player in the league — the face of the league — speaks volumes to what he’s about. And I respect the hell out of that.”
Two hours after that fateful conversation in the Chick-fil-A drive thru, Mahomes’ video, which he shot in the shoe room of his Kansas City home, was in Minter’s possession.
And Minter could tell that Mahomes was a natural.
“I texted Jacquelyn and said, ‘It looks like someone has done this before,’” Minter said with a laugh. “He gave me different inflections, different tones of voice. He gave me the same lines two and three times to make sure I had enough to edit with. His delivery on the ones that were chosen were perfect.”
Minter’s excitement about the project grew as the day went on and more videos rolled in, as many players delivered their lines with similar aplomb as Mahomes, including the Cleveland Browns’ Odell Beckham Jr., the New York Jets’ Jamal Adams and the Arizona Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins.
When the time came to choose one of the players to deliver the lead-in to arguably the most important line of the video — all the players saying “Black Lives Matter” in unison — Minter knew he had to lead it off with Mahomes.
“As the face of the league, as one of the most important people in the NFL right now, I thought ending specifically on Pat saying, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ as well as having Odell delivering the line the way that he did — so passionately with so much emotion — was easily the most compelling way to do it,” Minter said.
By roughly 8:30 p.m. ET, Minter finished the video and sent it to Thomas, who dispersed it to the players. From there, each player promoted the video from their social media handles. Mahomes tweeted it out with the hashtag #StrongerTogether.
The media blitz worked, and the 70-second video went on to be viewed millions of times. It even prompted a response from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who released a video of his own within 24 hours in which he acknowledged the very things the players demanded.
Feedback to Mahomes’ participation has been largely positive. His godfather swelled with pride — “I told him I was proud of him,” LaTroy Hawkins told Yahoo Sports — and the Chiefs’ official Twitter account even tweeted that it was proud of both he and safety Tyrann Mathieu, who participated in the video as well.
Feedback has also been positive for Minter, a University of Missouri alum who was thrilled to help some of the NFL’s best players, including its brightest star, who plays only two hours away from his college home.
“To have the Super Bowl MVP express himself like that,” Minter said, “and take that chance was unbelievable.”
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