In elementary school, we say, “It takes one to know one.” The adult version might be, “Game recognize game.” Whatever the right phrase is, the truth is that there’s a reason that Patrick Mahomes and Micah Parsons have such a clear respect for one another. It’s because they both realize the work and talent it takes to play at a level higher than almost everyone else on the football field.
Both Parsons and Mahomes squared off against the other for the first time ever on Sunday in Week 11 at Arrowhead Stadium, a game that ultimately ended in a 19-9 victory for the Kansas City Chiefs over the Dallas Cowboys. In the winning effort, however, Mahomes’ heroics were muted in part because Parsons, a rookie linebacker for Dallas, was a menace for most of the game for Mahomes and anyone else wanting to move the chains for the Chiefs.
Mahomes needs no introduction to anyone as perhaps the single most popular player in the game. The Chiefs were just flexed into primetime on Tuesday for their upcoming game in Week 13 even though they’ve already had four primetime showings so far. The reason is largely Mahomes and how much fans want to watch the game’s best quarterback on display. He’s won a regular season MVP and a Super Bowl MVP and he’s been to consecutive championships all by the age of 25.
As for Parsons, he’s just now well into his first year in the NFL after the Cowboys selected him in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but he leads all rookies in sacks with 8 and has 24 quarterback pressures, 18 hits, and 2 forced fumbles. His natural pass rushing ability and versatility to play at linebacker or off the line make him a generational talent, and the Cowboys should be thrilled with the results of their draft investment.
After the game, a sort of mutual admiration society was formed between the players. Mahomes made headlines with his praise of Parsons, who sacked Mahomes twice and forced a fumble on Sunday afternoon, saying he was a “special player.”
"“I mean, to be that good of a linebacker and be able to play defensive end, there’s not a lot of guys like that in this league. He has a high motor. He chased me down on that sack, the strip-sack, and the whole game he was in there the whole time battling and battling.”"
Following the game, it’s also clear that Parsons paid tribute to Mahomes but did so in person. According to Michael Gehlken, Parsons asked Mahomes for his jersey as a future keepsake for his son.
At this point, Parsons is a shoe-in for Defensive Rookie of the Year and looks like he will be the kind of player who could one day earn the greater Defensive Player of the Year trophy if he continues to develop. While the Cowboys and Chiefs might not match up again for quite some time, these two will be playing in Pro Bowls for years to come.