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Sorta Random Sunday: Should Patrick Mahomes Worry About Money or Legacy?

Patrick Mahomes, quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, is now in GOAT territory after another Super Bowl win last month. But there is one thing he’s not…and that’s the highest paid player in the NFL. He’s actually the 8th highest paid QB (and player overall) currently. The interesting part of this for me, however, was that a reporter asked him about this a while back. And his response was that he cared more about legacy. So, which should Patrick Mahomes care more about, money or legacy?

Examining his money

In 2020, Patrick Mahomes signed a 10 years contract extension for a total of $450 million. That was at the time the highest contract in NFL history. And in fact it still remains the highest in terms of total amount.

Patrick Mahomes legacy

But at the time it was also the highest ever in terms of annual salary at $45 million.

Now, however, 7 other quarterbacks – including Aaron Rodgers (of the New York Jets!), Russell Wilson, Jalen Hurts, and Lamar Jackson – actually have annual salaries higher than him.

Fair? Who knows. But this is how it shakes out right now.

Examining his legacy

Rankings of who is the best in any sport are subjective. But Patrick Mahomes has some impressive qualifications to help cement his legacy:

  • 3× Super Bowl champion
  • 3× Super Bowl MVP
  • 2× NFL Most Valuable Player (2018, 2022)
  • NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2018)
  • 2× First-team All-Pro (2018, 2022)
  • Second-team All-Pro (2020)
  • 7x Pro Bowl (2018–2024)
  • 2× NFL passing touchdowns leader (2018, 2022)
  • NFL passing yards leader (2022)
  • Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year (2020)
  • Bert Bell Award (2018)

Not too shabby…

Which matters more to him?

Well, here is his response:

I’ve always said I worry about legacy and winning rings more than making money at this moment. We see what’s going on around the league, but at the same time, I’ll never do anything that’s going to hurt us from keeping the great players around me. So it’s kind of teetering around that line.

Patrick Mahomes on priorities for him in the NFL

My take on the Patrick Mahomes legacy vs. money debate

I think that’s commendable and actually makes a lot of sense. He’s makes a ton of money. At a certain point, how much more can you want? And studies show that experiences make us more happy than money after a certain income level (which Patrick Mahomes is well above).

So why not prioritize creating and maximizing memorable and happy experiences of winning during the remainder of his football playing career?

Everyone obviously wants to feel that receive compensation appropriately and fairly based on the value they provide. Even despite the fact that value is subjective and the way that our society gauges value may be a bit off kilter.

However, once you reach that level, is it really worth pursuing a subpar opportunity in terms of your happiness, legacy, or well-being for money?

Everyone will have their own answer. But I think I agree with Patrick.

Is there a corollary here for doctors?

I think so.

Physicians make a lot of money too. Even the average physician salary is well in the 1% of income for all Americans.

And of course, we want to earn commensurate with the value we provide. But the reality is that a lot of us seek more money to our own detriment. And we often put our compensation as a greater priority than our well-being, free time, and ability to create memories outside of the hospital when it comes to picking a job or signing a contract.

Once we hit a certain income level, maybe it is time to start prioritizing our professional and, more importantly, personal legacy.

And if you are interested in seeing how pay between professional athletes and doctors compares, check out this post. You may be surprised like I was!

What do you think? What should Patrick prioritize more? And what should doctors prioritize more? Let me know in the comments below!

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    1 thought on “Sorta Random Sunday: Should Patrick Mahomes Worry About Money or Legacy?”

    1. Great insight into the life of driven, high-performing, high-earning people. Although $45 million a year is a little absurd–your point is well taken–doctors should choose to pursue fair-paying jobs that fuel their preferred lifestyle, quality of life, and well-being.

      This is why many doctors are choosing to transition to independent contractors (rather than employees) and work multiple location-independent jobs that are stacked together to meet their income needs. For instance, in my work as a physician agent, it is not uncommon for me to see younger doctors choose 0.5 to 0.8 FTE job that has a few side jobs layered on top of it.

      Job stacking for doctors is evolving view of work that is pushing the broken status quo of traditional employment–which is typified by working 1 full-time job in 1 location for 1 employer. This is an old model and more progressive models that preserve our professional autonomy are needed

      The times are slowly changing as doctors become more aware of their work vast work options.


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