Patrick Mahomes continues to redefine greatness

KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 21: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after a play against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on January 21, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 21: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after a play against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on January 21, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

Patrick Mahomes stands to gain another title and a place in league history. 

Flash back to March 24 of last year. In the week leading up to a trade that would send shockwaves throughout the NFL, speculation had grown that contract extension talks between the Kansas City Chiefs and star wideout Tyreek Hill had stalled. Shortly after many of us got to our respective places of work on that day, rumors began to swirl from Schefter, Rappaport, and several others who are woven tightly into the fabric of NFL insider life – the Chiefs were in talks with the Jets and Dolphins to trade away one of their franchise players.

In what seemed like just a few minutes – it literally only took about 2 hours from the time the news broke until the deal was done – Tyreek Hill was no longer a part of the Kansas City Chiefs. Shipping off the South Beach was the most explosive part of an offense that had become known for its explosion over the previous 4 seasons with Hill, Travis Kelce, and Patrick Mahomes being the three key ingredients. Had things changed a little bit since the beginning of the offensive onslaught? Sure, in 2021 Mahomes was forced to take a lot more underneath as teams began to deploy the 2-high safety looks that became the temporary antidote to the Chiefs’ prolific attack, but the threat of the deep play was still there with Hill’s explosive speed.

Now that was gone. As were the high hopes of the Chiefs’ offense continuing to be a juggernaut in an NFL that seemed to be catching up to Kansas City. The divisional additions are well documented – Davante Adams and Chandler Jones to Las Vegas, Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson to Los Angeles, and Russell Wilson and Randy Gregory to Denver. All moves were made to stymy the Chiefs in their run for a 7th consecutive AFC West crown. Furthermore, the AFC’s other top contenders made additions of their own. Buffalo added Von Miller and Cincinnati completely revamped their offensive line. All with the intent to make Mahomes and the Chiefs a distant memory rather than a pillar that would continue to withstand the test of time.

Doubts arose about the Chiefs’ ability not just to retain the top spot in the AFC, but even in their own division. Many picked the Raiders, Chargers, or even the Broncos to win the AFC West. Buffalo was the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl, and Josh Allen the favorite to win the NFL’s MVP honors in 2022.

The heart of a champion is one of the harder things to conquer in the sports world. Even throughout the course of the regular season, Patrick Mahomes faced doubts. With a receiving corps that included JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman, and not much else – how could Mahomes replicate what he had done in the past with Tyreek Hill? An opening weekend romp of the Arizona Cardinals in the same stadium where the Chiefs will take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday gave a brief glimpse of what was to come.

Were there ups and downs for the Chiefs this season? Well, kind of. Sure the Chiefs fell to the Bills and the Bengals in the regular season, lending more gas for the flames of the torch-wielding doubters looking for the end of the Chiefs’ reign of AFC supremacy. Close calls against bad teams down the stretch lent more credence to the thought that the Chiefs might just not have enough this year to get the job done.

But, somehow quietly, Mahomes had a career year. 5,250 passing yards, 40+ touchdown passes, a team record of 14-3, and the AFC’s top seed in the playoffs. The list goes on and on. Seemingly, Mahomes and Travis Kelce broke more records each week or at least set themselves on pace to demolish records that have been held for decades across the league.

Even though some of the wins weren’t pretty, the wins continued to pile up. K.C. continued to take care of business even though it may not have been the most attractive way to get it done. Do you get credit for style points in the NFL? No, but if you did Mahomes would still find a way to lead the league in that category. In a season where many thought we’d see regression, Mahomes took each and every torch from the doubters and put the expectations of a Kingdom squarely on his own shoulders.

After a Herculean effort in the Divisional round where Mahomes gutted out a close win over the piping-hot Jaguars on a badly sprained right ankle, he somehow showed more killer instinct than ever before in a gutsy 23-20 win over the Bengals in the AFC title game. When 73% of the public bet the Bengals to win over a hobbled Mahomes, he proved 3/4 of the world wrong.

Thursday night Mahomes brought home his second MVP honor in 5 seasons as the quarterback of the Chiefs. The distinction put him on a list of only 10 quarterbacks in the history of the NFL to win multiple MVP honors. Names like Brady, Manning, Unitas, and Montana are now joined by a 27-year-old who is without question rewriting the way that folks around the league and those who cover it define greatness.

With a win on Sunday, the Chiefs would cement one of the greatest—and frankly, more unexpected—seasons in recent memory for a team. A win would also put Mahomes 2022 season in the conversation for best individual performances of all time—with 5000+ yards passing, 40+ TD passes, some of the grittiest single-game performances we’ve ever seen, a league MVP, Lombardi trophy, and likely Super Bowl MVP. A win would also put him into a group of four players to ever win multiple regular season and Super Bowl MVPs.

Mahomes’s run as of late has spurred many debates about where he ranks historically already and how he compares to Tom Brady. While some have said that Mahomes may indeed be the LeBron James to Brady’s Michael Jordan, a different reality needs to be considered. Mahomes’ talents are unparalleled, there is no doubting that. The LeBron comparison is warranted. But in this postseason run, we’re seeing the drive and will to win that matches what we saw from MJ in the 1990s. While Brady’s longevity and career achievements stand out above all others, much like a former Boston sports legend. In all reality, Patrick Mahomes might just be the Michael Jordan to Brady’s Bill Russell.

Next. Chiefs who hope to play in their first Super Bowl. dark