Patrick Mahomes declined endorsement money in deference to Alex Smith last season

File this one under “things you don’t expect from a professional athlete.”

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes turned down easy endorsement money last season. And he did it with the blessing of his agent.

The decision wasn’t because of a conflict with the products or services. It was because he didn’t want the publicity.

Mahomes didn’t want the hype before he played a snap

Mahomes and his agent Leigh Steinberg talked to ESPN about how he declined local endorsements last year in deference to veteran starter Alex Smith. Steinberg said that Mahomes got some of the offers that come with being a first-round rookie, but chose to focus instead on finding his place in the locker room before having his face plastered on Kansas City billboards while Smith was still the starter.

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“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,” Steinberg said.

“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.”

After laying low and turning down endorsement money as a rookie, Patrick Mahomes, right, is ingraining himself in the Kansas City community. (AP)
After laying low and turning down endorsement money as a rookie, Patrick Mahomes, right, is ingraining himself in the Kansas City community. (AP)

Mahomes takes over team with big expectations

Now Mahomes will be playing. And it’s time to cash in. The Chiefs traded Smith to the Washington Redskins in the offeason, putting the second-year quarterback with one NFL start on his resume squarely in the spotlight as the leader of a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

The Chiefs traded up in the 2017 draft to grab Mahomes with the 10th pick. When they had their playoff spot secured at the end of the season, coach Andy Reid gave Mahomes the Week 17 start in a meaningless game against the Denver Broncos. Mahomes was solid, leading the Chiefs to a 27-24 win while throwing for 284 yards and an interception.

Mahomes getting his face out in Kansas City

Now that the team is his, Mahomes told ESPN he’s getting his face out more in Kansas City by going to Royals games and other public events in town.

“The fans come out every single week and show passion and love for us and our team and what we’re doing here,” Mahomes said. “I want to be back in the community giving back and just being a part of it so I can show the same passion and love to them.

“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.”

The decision to lay low as a rookie seems a prudent one, even if it meant short-term financial sacrifice. If he continues to focus on leadership and lives up the big-armed hype that made him a a first-round pick, that endorsement money won’t be hard to come by.

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