About Boardroom

Boardroom is a media network that covers the business of sports, entertainment. From the ways that athletes, executives, musicians and creators are moving the business world forward to new technologies, emerging leagues, and industry trends, Boardroom brings you all the news and insights you need to know...

At the forefront of industry change, Boardroom is committed to unique perspectives on and access to the news, trending topics and key players you need to know.

All Rights Reserved. 2022.

The Patrick Mahomes Awakening

Last Updated: July 1, 2023

This story is part one of Boardroom’s Black History Month “Playmakers” series highlighting figures across sports, business, culture, and entertainment who are working to effect socially conscious change. 
Part II: Karl Fowlkes | Part III: Nicole Lynn | Part IV: Chris Paul |
Part V: Issa Rae | Part VI: Quinta Brunson | Part VII: Broccoli City

As the Chiefs quarterback continues to find his voice, it may be that his contributions as a community activist and champion for education will become the bedrock of his legacy.

The consistency of Patrick Mahomes‘ play on the football field has established him as one of the premier faces of the next generation of professional athletes — to say nothing of what it’s done for his trophy case and bank account. The NFL is currently in the midst of a transitioning period where the league’s longtime premier faces like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan have either already hung up their cleats or have more years behind them than they do ahead. Their eventual departure has opened up the door for players like Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson to step into their predecessors’ shoes.

Of the four new school leaders, Mahomes has had the most success and has been the most dominant. It’s not the least bit difficult to argue that no quarterback in NFL history has had a faster start than Mahomes — at age 27, his on-field feats include:

  • Super Bowl LIV champion
  • Super Bowl LIV MVP
  • 2018 NFL MVP
  • 2018 AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year
  • Fastest player to throw for 10,000 yards, 15,000 yards, and 20,000 yards
  • Fastest to throw 100 career regular season touchdowns
  • Most total yards in a season (2022)
  • 5x Pro Bowler (2018-2022)
  • 2x First Team All-Pro (2018, 2022)
  • 1x Second Team All-Pro (2020)

To be clear, the accomplishments above do not even include all the Chiefs franchise records he holds. And how about the distinction of owning the single largest contract in US sports history at 10 years and $450 million? It all amounts to an incredible CV for a guy who, barring injury, may only be about one-third of the way through his professional career and on pace to become the sport’s biggest all-time earner.

But despite his on-field production and direct deposits to match, it’s what the QB has done outside the painted lines that may ultimately form the most profound component of his legacy.

Sign up for our newsletter

Get on our list for weekly sports business, industry trends, interviews, and more.

“What If I Was George Floyd?”

Mahomes was still in college when Colin Kaepernick took the world by storm in August of 2016 by taking one knee to protest systemic racial and ethnic inequality in America, including the killings of Trayvon Martin (2012), Eric Garner (2014), Tamir Rice (2014), Freddie Gray (2015), Sandra Bland (2015) Michael Brown (2015), and Philando Castile (2016). Mahomes entered the NFL in 2017 and would reckon with similarly senseless, demoralizing deaths like those of Elijah McClain (2019), Tatiana Jefferson (2019), Ronald Greene (2019), Breonna Taylor (2020), George Floyd (2020), and Charleena Lyles (2021).

Then, fewer than four months after his Super Bowl LIV win with Kansas City, George Floyd’s killing by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota ignited countless protests across America.

The NFL released a statement on the tragedy, but Bryndon Minter, a social media employee with the league at the time, found the message to be embarrassing, so he reached out to New Orleans Saints wideout Michael Thomas. The Pro Bowler convened a group of NFL stars to help him create a video that called on the league to condemn racism and the systemic oppression of Black people, admit wrong in silencing players for peacefully protesting and declaring loud and clear that Black lives matter. The video featured Tyrann Mathieu, Deandre Hopkins, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliot, Davante Adams, Jamal Adams, Chase Young, Odell Beckham Jr., and more.

At the 17-second mark, Mahomes appeared to ask a simple question: What if I was George Floyd?”

Up until that point, though Mahomes had acknowledged his public identity as a Black quarterback, he had not said much of anything publicly about key social issues. In time, he explained why it was important for him to appear in the video in Jason Reid’s 2022 book The Rise of the Black Quarterback: What It Means For America:

“Before you do anything, you have to think about it. You have to examine what positives can come from anything you do and what negatives can come from anything you do. For me, I knew that I had to take a stand. I had to be a part of this video. I had to be a part of the change… a part of the movement. And me having my platform. I knew that it would mean a lot. Not only for me, but also for everybody who came before me and everyone who comes after me. I knew that I had to be a part of it because… it was just time to take that step. Yeah, I thought about it, but enough was enough. We needed to take a stand — I needed to.”

Following the release of the video in question, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a video response of his own that acknowledged the players’ requests as part of a pledge to listen, be better, and learn to be more actively supportive going forward.

In November, Mahomes doubled down on his growing socially conscious drive by aiding in the purchases of new voting machines costing “six figures,” according to Chiefs President Mark Donovan. The team even opened Arrowhead Stadium as a polling station during the 2020 Presidential elections. As Mahomes explained on the “Huddle & Flow” podcast with Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter:

“I thought it was very important not only to get as many people out to vote as possible, but also to use a place [like] Arrowhead — where we have a lot of fun, show a lot of love, unity, where people are coming together — and use that as a place where we can come together and use our voice. As you get older and as you mature and as the discussion and the talk have really become such a big ordeal, you really understand more and more of how it affects you every single day, and so I’m just glad that I had the opportunity that I can vote and can use my voice in whatever way possible.”

The Roots That Run Deepest

Mahomes’ production on the field continued in his fourth NFL season and third as a starter, as he earned Second Team All-Pro honors and led the Chiefs to the Super Bowl before losing to the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A month after the defeat, Mahomes moved in a different direction to further impact Black communities and the athletes within them. His charity organization, the 15 and the Mahomies Foundation, agreed to a multi-year partnership with the HBCU Legacy Bowl, a postseason all-star showcase that held its inaugural edition last year and named the QB an honorary captain.

His profound connection to HBCUs dates back to his time in college at Texas Tech, where Mahomes shared the field with Jonathan Giles for two seasons. Giles then transferred to Texas Southern University, a historically Black institution in Houston, Texas. That caught the QB’s attention, and he wanted to learn more about these schools and their role in shaping America’s past and present.

“I know a lot of players that have been at HBCUs and haven’t got the opportunities that I got coming out of college, so I wanted to make sure that we shine a light on these guys, because a bunch of these guys can play in the league,” Mahomes said in an interview during the HBCU Legacy Bowl’s broadcast on NFL Network.

Today, his knowledge of HBCU path-pavers goes deeper than just former teammates. Mahomes is inspired by trailblazers that came before him like James “Shack” Harris and fellow Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams and feels a responsibility to amplify their contributions to this generation and the next.

“Those guys laid the foundation for me to be who I am today. I’ll never forget that. There’s so much history of HBCUs having great, hall-of-fame NFL players. I want them to have the belief [that they can do it] every single day and I think this will be a great step to get HBCU players in the NFL,” he said.

At just 27 years of age, Patrick Mahomes is the off to one of the most productive, prolific starts to a career that football has ever seen, and the same can increasingly be said for his pursuit of community justice and empowerment off the field. His role in standing up for the social issues that matter most and finding as many ways as possible to invest in HBCUs is no less important in terms of legacy-building as winning on the football field — particularly since the NFL has never seen one of its most prominent, most popular, and highest-performing players stand up for such causes with such consistency and poise.

Mahomes’ involvement in these efforts can play a remarkable, invaluable role in pushing the league in the right direction the same way that Bryndon Minter and the Michael Thomas-led video did.

The only question that remains is just how far this superstar’s voice can carry here, now, and long after he’s done spinning spirals on the field.

Read More:

Read More:

Sign up for our newsletter

Get on our list for weekly sports business, industry trends, interviews, and more.

About The Author
Randall Williams
Randall Williams
Randall Williams is a former Staff Writer at Boardroom specializing in sports business and music. He previously worked for Sportico, Andscape and Bloomberg. His byline has also been syndicated in the Boston Globe and Time Magazine. Williams' notable profile features include NFL Executive VP Troy Vincent, Dreamville co-founder Ibrahim Hamad, BMX biker Nigel Sylvester, and both Shedeur and Shilo Sanders. Randall, a graduate of "The Real HU" -- Hampton University — is most proud of scooping Howard University joining Jordan Brand nearly three months before the official announcement.