KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brett Veach, then the co-director of player personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs, flew to Dallas to meet team chairman and CEO Clark Hunt to interview for the team’s vacant general manager position. A four-hour interview and six days later, he was absolutely positive he tanked it.
“Then I got back and I didn’t hear anything for like six days, so I was like, ‘Man, I probably screwed that up,'” Veach thought.
Hunt called Veach a week after the initial interview. He wanted to know more about the 39-year-old scout’s three-year plan and approach to free agency, drafting and roster management.
The next time Hunt called, he wanted Veach to become the seventh general manager in the team’s history.
“When I got back to Kansas City a couple days later, you can’t get caught up in the emotions because there is so much work to do and so many things that need to take place before camp even start,” Veach said. “There was a wave of emotions but there wasn’t a lot of time to sit back and think about everything and take everything in because it happens so fast.”
Veach served an internship with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004, when he first met Andy Reid, then the Eagles head coach. Veach returned to his alma mater, the University of Delaware, as an event supervisor in the athletic department.
In 2007 Reid gave Veach the break of a lifetime, offering him a job as his assistant. Veach threw himself into the role. Reid held both coaching and personnel control at the time, giving Veach more access to the scouting and roster construction side of the business.
“I love college football,” Veach said. “That was the one thing. I was just fascinated by putting a roster together and seeing how all the pieces of the puzzle fit.”
Thus began a meteoric rise for the Mt. Caramel, Pa., native. Veach served as Reid’s assistant for three seasons before moving to a pro and college scout role. He moved with Reid to Kansas City in 2013, starting as a pro and college analyst before earning promotion to co-director of player personnel alongside Mike Borgonzi.
Veach inherits not just a playoff team but a management structure as well.
When Hunt hired Reid and former general manager John Dorsey in 2013, he created a management structure with both coaching and personnel reporting directly to him. Hunt wants to continue that philosophy with Veach and Reid working together.
Ultimately, however, Hunt assured that control of the 53-man roster rests solely with Veach.
“It’s exactly the same relationship that John had with Andy,” Hunt said. “I expect the two of them to work together on the decisions, but Brett has final say on the 53.”
Hunt expects to speak with Veach frequently, and wants to be consulted in issues involving big free agent signings or veterans under contract.
“Ultimately the decision itself is his but I like being part of those conversations to make sure that the club is building the roster in a way that I think gives us the best chance of being successful,” Hunt said. “There would not be a difference I would say in terms of how I interact with him and how I interacted with John.”
Veach won over Hunt by focusing on the future rather than the season at hand.
“When I went to Dallas to have the opportunity to meet with Mr. Hunt, it was all about my vision, my plan, where I saw this team going,” Veach said. “Construct this team not for the short, but for the long term.”
That message resonated with Hunt, still feeling from an offseason where the Chiefs said goodbye to veterans Jamaal Charles, Dontari Poe and Jeremy Maclin where the long-term vision seemed to fail the franchise.
“Obviously the focus is on the 2017 season, and he’s going to do what he can to make the Chiefs better,” Hunt said. “But I think he also understands that the decision that he makes today are going to have a big impact in 2018, 2019 and beyond.”
Veach’s philosophy draws much from his past experience, melding the best of Dorsey and Reid.
Much like his predecessor, Veach preaches using the draft and free agency as complementary means to and end.
“Free agency, the draft, it all has to be a cohesive deal where you’re attacking an area in free agency because it doesn’t work in the draft because of the depth,” Veach said. “And then vice versa, where you know you can’t get this in free agency but you can get it in the draft.”
Veach draws financial inspiration from his days with Reid in Philadelphia. He places a premium on extending players to keep in the future and relying on the salary cap specialists to make it work.
“My job isn’t to figure out all the small numbers,” Veach explained. “My job is to give them the plan. This is the vision, this is where I want the team, these are the guys I want to extend, here’s how I want to build this thing, and then you guys get creative with moving the money.”
Veach has his concerns about his new job. He knows he still has much to learn, and understands he will make mistakes.
But his biggest concern is about allowing his duties at work overwhelming his responsibilities at home.
“My wife will tell you five o’clock means seven, seven o’clock means nine, nine o’clock means I might be sleeping at the office,” Veach said. “And that was with my director of player personnel title, so now you’re the GM.”
Family means much to the team’s new personnel boss. The front row of his introductory press conference was dotted with family. He and wife Allison have three children — sons Elijah and Wylan and daughter Ella.
“I think it’s always important for me to take a step back and remember my wife and my kids – obviously their my No. 1 priority – and to not get caught up in everything where I’m not giving them enough time that they need,” Veach said.