Patrick Mahomes might just be the best thing to ever come along for fans of the Kansas City Chiefs. The past four years have been historically great. They’ve had four straight AFC Championship Game appearances. They’ve made it to two Super Bowls and won one of them, the first championship in 50 years. They have been the most consistently good team in the NFL over those four seasons and have become a fixture in conversations about the NFL on the national level.
While the NFL is a team game and you can’t have success without a successful front office, coaching staff, and complete roster, you can still directly tie this era of success in Kansas City to when Patrick Mahomes became the starting quarterback.
At this point everyone reading this knows the resume: four-time Pro Bowler, first-team and second-team All-Pro, Offensive Player of the Year, MVP, Super Bowl Champion, and Super Bowl MVP. He’s put up monstrous numbers, averaging about 4,675 yards and 38 touchdowns per season. It’s more than just the numbers and accolades that he has piled up in just four short years; the eye test tells you all those stats and awards don’t do him justice. Mahomes routinely makes your jaw drop and has given Chiefs fans a real reason to believe that they are never out of a game.
As Chiefs fans, we’ve been waiting for a player like this for most of our lives. For the most part, it’s been everything we could have ever dreamed of. The one downside (if you can even call it that) is that the Chiefs are no longer the lovable Midwestern underdog who everyone is happy to see succeed. Instead, they have quickly risen to the top of the NFL’s teams that people are “tired of winning” and Patrick Mahomes has now become a player that many want to see fail.
Patrick Mahomes is a brilliant target which is what makes him such a blatant target.
Let’s be honest Chiefs fans, we were guilty of it, too. We all wanted to see the New England Patriots’ empire crumble. We all wanted to see Tom Brady lose. We were tired of seeing them plastered all over ESPN and social media, and if we’re being completely honest, we were jealous of their success. Well, the Patriots dynasty has come to an end (at least for now) and while we had to watch Tom Brady beat our favorite team in the Super Bowl with Tampa Bay, he has now announced his retirement. That makes the Chiefs the new torchbearer for the NFL’s most hated team and with Brady’s retirement Mahomes finds himself in the running for the QB everyone is rooting against (we could debate if it’s him or Aaron Rodgers, but it doesn’t really change the point here).
Mahomes’ success and talent have now made him the target of endless scrutiny from opposing fans (and sadly some of our own) as well as one of the favorite topics of the NFL’s tabloid-esque media machine. Mahomes’ name generates clicks, and sadly in our society, negative stories generate more clicks than positive ones. If you have a hot take that goes against Mahomes, that’s gold. If you have some kind of angle that puts a chink in his armor, people want to read it. Period.
At the NFL Honors award show, there was Keegan-Michael Key’s joke about how he saw Joe Burrow‘s outfit and forgot how to play football in the second half. There were the endless talking heads declaring Joe Burrow the new best young quarterback in the NFL because the Cincinnati Bengals beat Mahomes and the Chiefs this season, despite the fact that nothing on Burrow’s actual resume can match Mahomes yet. Just this past week Sam Acho went on television and said Mahomes wasn’t in his top five quarterbacks in the NFL.
Why is this happening? Simple, because everyone actually knows that Mahomes is amazing, but nobody wants to keep hearing that over and over and over every year. That doesn’t get clicks. That doesn’t generate views. You can’t just talk about how Mahomes is still the best all offseason long. So instead you try to prop someone new up. You come up with a “hot take” that can be the buzz of social media for 24 hours.
That in and of itself would be bad enough, but unfortunately, it’s gotten substantially worse than that. It’s not enough for some to question his rightful spot as one of the NFL’s best. Instead, some have decided that instead of attacking him head-on, they’ll focus on the people around him to try to come up with negative clickbait material without actually having to deny his success/talent.
This week we got a report that Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was the primary reason for K.C.’s failures this week. Not only was he not listening to Mahomes enough, but he was flat out fighting with him. Look, I don’t presume to know the complete dynamics of Mahomes and Bieniemy’s relationship, but I know competitive people butt heads in the heat of the moment and that doesn’t mean the relationship is toxic. I know that nobody thought the offensive play calling was fractured beyond repair the week before when the Chiefs won their epic shootout with the Buffalo Bills.
Maybe the Chiefs do need a fresh voice at offensive coordinator and who knows what Bieniemy thinks is best for him. I do know that scapegoating all their problems on Biemiemy doesn’t sit right with me, even if there were some issues. What I see is another piece that can feed off Mahomes big name/hype and still has the negative clickbait appeal without having to actually attack Mahomes himself.
I REALLY wish it stopped there, but sadly that’s not even the worst garbage Mahomes has had to deal with this week. Over the past year, there has been growing animosity towards Mahomes fiancé Brittany Matthews and his brother Jackson. That all came to a head this week with two separate incidents. The first was when cameras at the Texas Tech basketball game caught Mahomes and Matthews in what looked like a bit of a disagreement, something that happens with literally every couple that has ever been in a serious relationship. The second is when it was falsely reported that Mahomes had asked both Matthews and his brother to stay away from Chiefs games next season. Mahomes’ response was pretty much perfect.
I think there are actually two separate things at play here. First, there is the national angle where people are basically able to attack Mahomes without having to deny his talent and success on the field. The second is K.C. fans who like to pin any struggles that Mahomes has on the “distractions” of his family as opposed to just accepting that he is still human and is going to make mistakes sometimes.
Mahomes is amazing. That doesn’t mean that if he has an awful second half in the AFC Championship Game that there has to be something sinister at fault. Eric Bieniemy didn’t sabotage the game. Patrick Mahomes wasn’t distracted by his brother’s latest TikTok post or his pending wedding. He certainly didn’t throw the game on purpose. He played an awful half of football. It sucks, but it happens. We don’t have to make excuses for him. He just has to learn from it and continue to improve. That certainly would be easier to do if he wasn’t having to live with rumors of locker room drama and people attacking his family left and right.
Unfortunately for Patrick Mahomes, he is too talented to escape this spotlight. Early odds have the Chiefs as frontrunners for the Super Bowl again next season, so as long as he continues to play quarterback at the level he has for the past four seasons, there are going to continue to be opposing fans who cast stones at him. Mahomes is going to be one of the favorite targets for TV’s talking heads for whom new “hot takes” will emerge to create buzz for their own shows. And yes, there are going to be Chiefs fans who attack and blame anyone and everyone around him for any failures that he has. His only options are to ignore these things or use them as fuel to motivate him going forward. Anything else is a waste of his time and energy.
That having been said, there is something that we Chiefs fans can do: Ignore the negative press and posts that surround Mahomes. Don’t give them your clicks. Don’t give them your views. It just feeds the monster. Don’t really care for Mahomes family? That’s fine, they have no impact on your life whatsoever. So don’t follow them. If someone retweets them on to your timeline then scroll right past it. You’ll never get clickbait and trolls to disappear, but that doesn’t mean you have to give them exactly what they want.
Patrick Mahomes is the best thing to happen to the Kansas City Chiefs in my lifetime. He’s not perfect. He has room to continue to improve and grow, but he’s already given this team and its fans more than any other player in my lifetime. That doesn’t mean I can’t criticize his play on the field—that’s fair game—but the least I can do as a thank you for what he’s done for my favorite team is not engage with the absurd national media takes or attacks on his family. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask.