Chiefs backup QB Chad Henne: “I understand my role”
The pass flew 50 yards in the air, from the arm of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to the belly of his receiver, a majestic flight prompting another standing ovation from the Missouri Western State crowd.
As Mahomes walked to the sideline, his first session of Wednesday’s training camp practice completed, a throng of fans sat down for a break; others buried their heads into their cell phones; one pulled out a sandwich and a bottle of water from his backpack.
Behind them all, at that moment, five young men stood up in unison, stepping onto their seats along the last row of the bleachers.
“There he is!” one shouted. “Here we go!”
As the Chiefs’ first-stringers departed the field, a finger pointed toward the far sideline, aimed at the 6-foot-3 backup dressed in the yellow no-contact jersey. The very man they were here to see.
Chad Henne. The other Chiefs quarterback.
Among the hundreds of Mahomes jerseys — authentic ones, with fancy stitching and $300 price tags — the five young men wore T-shirts made by a locally owned shop neighboring the St. Joseph Baskin-Robbins ice cream store.
On the back: Henne, 4.
On the front, their hope: Henne 4 starter.
“Last year at training camp, Patrick and Chad Henne were trying to throw the ball into the nets. Chad Henne did it twice. Patrick didn’t do it at all,” said Max Haywood, a St. Joseph resident. “I was like, ‘this guy’s good.’”
Haywood initiated the Henne-4-starter club. His brother, Ian, 22, is on board. So, too, are friends Brody Rezen and Joe Steele, 17-year-old Park Hill High School students, along with Drew Quinlin, a 16-year-old South Holt student.
Nevermind that the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, Mahomes, is the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player. Nevermind that he became only the second quarterback in history to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in one season ... at 23 years old.
“If you pull up the career stats, Henne is still leading in all categories,” said Max, and then he did just that on his iPhone. “It’s right there. How can you argue?”
Clear as day, illustrated ever-so-neatly on the group’s Instagram page, Henne4Starter. Henne has eight more career touchdowns, more than double the amount of career passing yards and nearly triple the amount of career completions.
“I mean, I appreciate the support,” Henne said later, when asked about the group and its mission. “But I don’t know if it will happen with Patrick here.”
Oh, but they believe it will. Or should anyway.
The five have been Chiefs fans as long as they can remember. Born here. Raised here. Hardcore enough to make training camp an annual stop. They stood outside Wednesday amid a steady rain. Withstood the onslaught of looks from fellow fans. “A lot of dirty looks,” Rezen said.
This is their cause now. They know everything there is to know about Henne. “He was with the Dolphins before us, right?” Rezen said.
They printed T-shirts for the cause. Advertised a sale to friends and social media followers.
“We’ve sold 10,” Ian said, “so it’s growing.”
Henne signed one of the shirts at the end of the day. Laughed at them. “I mean he threw for 50 touchdowns last year. I only have 50-some touchdowns in 12 years.”
“Facts are facts,” Max said.
And they still make Henne the leader.
Henne predicts Mahomes will surpass his numbers sometime in the future, perhaps the near future. The group of five fears that day is coming, too.
“We got another two years,” Rezen said.
“Well,” Max said, turning toward his friend. “Maybe one.”