Ten summers ago, Andy Reid offered a not-yet-30-year-old a full-time NFL position with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Brett Veach had to think about it. He had a prior commitment: supervisor of intercollegiate athletics events at the University of Delaware.
“I remember he came to me seeking advice on whether or not he should take the job,” said Jerry Oravitz, a co-worker and longtime mentor of Veach. “I, of course, told him to take the job and start tomorrow, even though I am pretty sure tomorrow was a Sunday.
“Brett, being the loyal man he is, stayed with us for the next two weeks as he worked for the Eagles. He was so loyal to us.”
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Until his replacement was found, Veach made the 40-mile commute between jobs, fighting traffic on Interstate 95. Ten years later, he’s on the road to becoming a NFL general manager. As co-director of player personnel, Veach is one of two internal candidates to succeed John Dorsey as the Chiefs’ GM.
Veach, 39, was a high school football star in a small Pennsylvania coal mining town who realized at Delaware his future in football would be off the field. As a player and as a graduate assistant, Veach turned the heads of his coaches, colleagues and mentors with his ability to understand the game. He was recommended for an internship with the Eagles, and in Philadelphia, met Reid, who later hired him and brought him to Kansas City.
“It didn’t take long for Brett to work with Andy before Andy really trusted him with some really important stuff,” said former Delaware football coach K.C. Keeler. “In a short period of time, Brett developed trust on not only a professional level but a personal level with Andy.”
Veach grew up in Mount Carmel, a town of 6,000 about 90 miles northwest of Philadelphia. It’s also the home of Mount Carmel Area High School, which has won more football games than any school in the state.
As a senior in 1996, Veach won the Associated Press Small School Player of the Year Award, rushing for 2,163 yards and 26 touchdowns and finishing with 2,791 all-purpose yards. After winning the 1994 state championship with a 14-1 record, Mount Carmel Area won the 1996 title at 15-0.
“Brett was something special, that’s all you can really say,” retired coach Dave “Whitey” Williams said. “Brett was all about big plays, but he was such a team player, who, mentally knew the game so well.”
Veach rushed for 160 yards on 25 carries in the 1996 championship game, scoring one touchdown. But that’s not the play Williams remembers.
“There was a play, in the eastern final to get to the state championship, that we called ‘slot-right-open-real-wide’,” Williams said. “We wanted to get Brett in a mismatch to run by everyone and we did.
“He caught a 65-yard touchdown pass on the third play of the game, and we went on to win the game and the state championship the following week.”
Oravitz, who grew up near Mount Carmel, was Delaware’s director of football operations during Veach’s high school years. That’s where Veach started college in the fall of 1997.
“He had a prolific career and was such a terrific player,” Oravitz said. “He was the golden child of Mount Carmel, and honestly, he still is.”
Veach arrived at Delaware as an undersized tailback who did not figure to receive many carries. He soon switched to wide receiver, but was known most as the Blue Hens’ kick and punt returner.
“Switching to that position just showed Brett’s work ethic and his ability to be a team player,” Williams said.
Veach finished his career with a school-record 1,558 kick return yards. He also had 1,470 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns on 99 receptions, some of them from quarterback and future Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy.
“As I got to know Brett more, I could tell he was a student of the game,” Oravitz said. “I knew because of the questions he would ask, he had such an interest and passion for the sport.
“Before Google was Google, Brett Veach was Google when it came to facts and thoroughness in the game of football.”
When his playing career came to an end, Veach stayed at Delaware as a graduate assistant.
“When he worked with us back then, he was a young, seasoned veteran and his intelligence was uncanny,” Oravitz said. “He had the makings of becoming a great athletic director, and I believe that would’ve been his path if he didn’t intern with the Philadelphia Eagles.”
Veach’s first interaction with Reid came during a 2004 training camp internship with the Eagles. Although it was just for the summer, Veach made an impression.
Kirk Ciarrocca, who was on Delaware’s football staff at the time, helped Veach land the position while he was a graduate assistant.
“I knew Brett was special,” Ciarrocca said. “He loved the game and he had such a special personality. Success was written all over him.”
And two years after the internship, Reid and the Eagles came calling. Veach, who wanted to work in the personnel side of the NFL, received an offer to become Reid’s coaching assistant. Veach held the position from 2007-09.
According to Keeler and Oravitz, Reid trusted Veach with more and more each day. In 2008, Reid tasked Veach with finding the best wide receiver to select in the second round of the draft.
He even trusted him with his kids.
K.C. Keeler on the relationship between Andy Reid and Brett Veach
Veach found his man: DeSean Jackson from the University of California. Jackson, who was a consensus All-American as a sophomore but struggled as a junior, was not garnering a ton of attention by some NFL teams because of his lack of size and strength.
Jackson appeared in three Pro Bowls during his six seasons with the Eagles.
“I think Brett saw himself in DeSean,” Oravitz said. “He saw an undersized, under-appreciated punt returner, kick returner who just needed a chance.”
Reid’s relationship with Veach even extended off the field.
“He even trusted him with his kids,” Keeler said, referring to Veach playing a role in Reid’s youngest son’s college football recruiting process. Veach tried to get Spencer Reid to Delaware, but in the end, Temple offered a full scholarship.
In 2010, Reid promoted Veach from his assistant to become a pro and college scout for the Eagles. After Reid was fired from the Eagles and moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City to become the Chiefs’ head coach, he brought Veach with him.
From 2013-15 Veach served as the Chiefs’ pro and college personnel analyst, until he was promoted to co-director of player personnel. He shares the position with Mike Borgonzi, who was formerly the assistant director of pro scouting.
“Brett has paid his dues, and he has earned the respect and the trust of those in the NFL,” Oravitz said. “He has done his career the right way.”
After Dorsey was fired on June 22, Veach was largely seen as the Chiefs’ top in-house candidate. He was scheduled to interview for the GM job at end of last month.
“He has all the ingredients. This is a passion for him … it’s not a job, but this is a passion,” Keeler said. “He’s such a good person and cares about people. When Andy makes decisions, he doesn’t just judge candidates on one or two criteria. He always looks at the whole package.
“(Brett) brings energy and his ability to communicate with people. Andy was the perfect fit for Brett, that’s why he has climbed the NFL ladder so quickly.”
The Star’s Josh Tolentino contributed to this story.