An apology letter to Chiefs general manager Brett Veach
By Matt Conner
So it turns out that all of my misgivings about the move to hire Brett Veach were off entirely. It’s time for me to apologize.
Dear Mr. Veach,
I was wrong. I am sorry. I don’t need a Super Bowl appearance to admit it.
I figure you’ll appreciate such direct statements from the top, a getting to the point before making the point, if you will. Judging by your aggressive methods at times, I’m assuming the majority of your phone calls are over in seconds—like Al Pacino answering crime scene calls in Heat.
Back to the apology, I’ve owed you this for quite some time. I was a bleeding heart for John Dorsey‘s cause and, even now, remembering the way in which he left this franchise brings a tear like playing Lee Greenwood in July does for my grandfather. You were the replacement. I was never going to like you initially, a stepfather interrupting a relationship I didn’t want to see altered in any way.
Immediately, credit was being given to you for trading up to chase Patrick Mahomes in the trade—as if Dorsey wasn’t the GM at the time. Andy Reid. Clark Hunt. They all just kept saying, “Veach was all over him. Veach wouldn’t shut up about him.” Suddenly you were getting acclaim for moves made before your tenure. At that point, I was determined to believe that Hunt and company had made a big mistake in letting Dorsey go–and that their overt praise in your direction felt more like propaganda.
One year later, things weren’t looking much better for you. I know we should give a draft class a few years to show how things turned out, but the early returns on our first class weren’t exactly stellar. We all love Derrick Nnadi, but the Breeland Speaks trade just felt odd all along (so did the fit). From there, we’ve only got Dorian O’Daniel and Armani Watts, spare parts for special teams, as remnants for the entire draft class. Just felt like a near-total waste.
The free agent grabs of Sammy Watkins and Anthony Hitchens both felt like major overpays. I was painting a mental picture of a GM who was out of his element, who was being handled by agents. I couldn’t believe Dorsey had been run out of town for bad contracts and yet these deals were applauded?
The Ragland trade? Meh. The Cam Erving deal? Meh. The signings of Amerson or Scandrick. The affinity for Redmond or Reaser. None of it felt inspired. Meanwhile, I was still in awe of the restorative work by Dorsey in Cleveland. One year later, I was convinced the Chiefs made the wrong move and that further years were only going to cost this team in talent and depth (and opportunity for Super Bowl glory).
It turns out I had zero idea what I was talking about.
If anything, we should have believed even in those early moves. We’ve witnessed the difference that new leadership on the defensive side can make for a player, so it feels wrong to have unfairly judged so many young players just yet. And if you can take a risk on a former 1st round pick for a low-round draft asset, you take that deal 9 times out of 10.
Since then, I’ve become convinced that Andy Reid’s anecdotes about your eye for talent is spot-on. Your vision for what Charvarius Ward could be deserves an award of its own. You nabbed Jordan Lucas for a painting by Mozart. You remade the secondary with bit parts and they’ve performed as you’d hoped with Spagnuolo in place.
You handled the Alex Smith trade to perfection. You surprised us all with a pre-Super Bowl deal that protected Mahomes from having any odd cloud hanging overhead about a QB controversy. The Chiefs entered that offseason without any resulting drama, yet you also found a nice home for a deserving quarterback who received a nice, new extension. Even the trade value was ideal.
That vision focused this offseason on Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu and both players have become instant personal favorites. How could they not? You knew what they would bring. You knew the tenacity we would see. In short, you knew we’d get on board, too. While Clark has taken some time, fans are learning to see what he’s playing through and what he’s providing outside of box scores. By the end of his contract, we’ll all be thankful for the years with Clark on this roster.
How about this year’s draft class? Five very real contributors from six draft picks. Mecole is going to be great when all is said and done. Thornhill, too. Saunders is a beast in the middle. We still love Darwin despite his lack of opps just yet. Even Rashad Fenton, the biggest question mark of all, looks like a reliable contributor in a secondary void of guarantees in the future (sans Ward). Only Nick Allegretti is the lone unproven, but he was going to need time to begin with.
Harrison Butker off of a practice squad list? It’s laughable watching myriad other teams run through a carousel of kickers and you simply bring in the next guy on your list!
But the one thing that convinced me to trust you more than anything was your patience at the trade deadline. I believe the rumors that you were in on Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jalen Ramsey. The Chiefs would be all the better for either player. But from there, the Chiefs had the perceived need, the money, and the trade history yet, in the end, you let it go by. And from there, the Chiefs have only gotten better.
The Chiefs secondary, even its corners, look competitive enough to play with any team in the league. As a team, they’ve withstood numerous injuries and have come together to show they can win in multiple ways. This is now a deep team who has yet to play their best football, but somehow they’ve come together to win their fourth consecutive division, This is a team with scars and stories and you didn’t fall for the pressure of immediately attending to a wound that might heal on its own.
Ultimately, that’s what I would want most in a general manager: a centered aggression to move when necessary. The NFL rewards those who are proactive and not reactive. You’ve learned this. You know this. You are instilling this.
I was wrong about you. I am sorry for the doubts.
A humble fan,