Author: Sam Gemini
MADISON – Patrick Mahomes is going to go down in history as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time; in fact, I’ll go so far as to declare that he will be the second G.O.A.T., behind the one and only Tom Brady. Everyone who follows football in any capacity has been left breathless by his athleticism, his precision, and his leadership; at the age of twenty-five, in just his third year as an NFL starting quarterback, he has accomplished what many of the all-time best have accomplished over fifteen-year careers: With a regular-season MVP and a Super Bowl MVP, Patrick Mahomes on his current trajectory is all but a lock for the Hall of Fame.
In this article, however, we are going to look away from all the glamour, all the artful throws, all the sparkling numbers; while the jaw-dropping greatness of the Texas Tech alum cannot be denied in the majority of the games he plays, this sort of raw talent graces the National Football League every season and is one of the things that makes this sport so exhilarating. But Mahomes possesses something far more special and unique, something that can be found once in a generation, if that. Identifying this trait when scouting quarterbacks in college is virtually impossible. It can only be discovered in that quarterback’s ugliest performances. It is called: winning.
Patrick Mahomes is a winner: period; end of story. Sunday afternoon’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers illustrates this truth perhaps better than any game has aside from Super Bowl LIV. Kansas City escaped with an overtime win due to Harrison Butker’s second fifty-eight-yard field goal of the game; but here’s the important part: Mahomes was terrible. That was certainly the worst performance of the young quarterback’s career (which is not to take away from the Chargers’ defense, which was outstanding). He was missing easy throws, his receivers were out of whack, and the LA pass rush manhandled Kansas City’s offensive line, putting a beating on Mahomes from the very first snap.
But winners are going to win, and a little over two minutes into the fourth quarter, the Super Bowl MVP decided that it was time for the Chiefs to win: Queue the fifty-four yard, off-balance, on-the-run, hit-as-he-throws bomb to Tyreek Hill for a game-tying touchdown – the best throw of the young NFL season. Los Angeles, however, quickly regained the lead on an efficient field-goal drive from Justin Herbert in his NFL debut.
This simply meant that Mahomes had yet another chance to will a victory, and he did so to the tune of multiple first-down scrambles in the fourth quarter and overtime, including an electric third-and-twenty, first-down run in the final minutes of regulation.
It was the same story in the Super Bowl (on a much smaller scale). After that incredible comeback, I heard from multiple people: “Mahomes wasn’t even good”; “He played terribly and San Francisco blew it.” That’s exactly the point: He was terrible. The talent of Patrick Mahomes is eye-popping, but it is nothing compared to his mental toughness and sheer grit. There have been countless ultra-talented quarterbacks throughout history that would have shrunk into a corner and prayed for it to be over after three-quarters of that Super Bowl; we saw it with Lamar Jackson against Tennessee last year: With a skill set never before seen, the unanimous MVP of the regular season crumbled in his only playoff game of 2019, a game that seemed to stretch on and on before mercifully ending with a final score of 28-12.
But Mahomes never hung his head, not after falling down 24-0 in the divisional round, not after falling down 17-7 in the AFC Championship, not even after throwing his second interception of the Super Bowl against the league’s second-best defense. The true character of a quarterback, or any athlete, or any person for that matter, shines through not when everything is going smoothly, but when it is an almighty struggle. He simply decided: We’re going to win now; and he completed the second most improbable comeback in Super Bowl history.
This is an immeasurable, unteachable quality that is possessed by the tiniest fraction of a percent of athletes. It is what separates the great quarterbacks from the greatest of all time – the legends. Tom Brady had it with New England, and now Patrick Mahomes has it.