That's a nice bit of redemption for Mecole Hardman.
Hardman, a wideout out of Georgia, was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft and was a solid contributor to the Chiefs as a returner and receiver throughout his rookie deal.
After winning Super Bowl 57, it was understood many of their offensive contributors would be looking for more money in the offseason and Hardman was one of those pieces. Hardman signed a one-year, $4-million dollar contract with the New York Jets. Unfortunately, Hardman was immediately on the outside looking in offensively and was a healthy scratch for the Jets early in the season.
Halfway through the 2023 season, the Chiefs traded for Mecole Hardman by sending a sixth-round draft pick in the 2025 draft to New York to add a weapon to the struggling wide receiver corps.
Hardman would end up being a minimal player in the offense led by Patrick Mahomes, catching only 14 passes for 118 yards and zero touchdowns leading up to Super Bowl 58. In fact, 77 of those 118 yards were in a week 18 game against the Los Angeles Chargers, where Mecole was thrust into the starting lineup with most starters not playing due to rest in preparation for the playoffs.
Entering Super Bowl 58, few had Mecole Hardman catching the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime on their bingo cards. When the 49ers won the coin toss and chose to take the ball in overtime, they came away with only a field goal. At that point, Chiefs Kingdom wondered who would shatter the dreams of the 49ers fans, but no one thought it would be Mecole Hardman. Many thought it would be Isaiah Pacheco or Taylor Swift's boyfriend, Travis Kelce, but at the end of the day, with a few seconds remaining in the overtime period, Patrick Mahomes ran to his right and found Hardman on a variation of the famed Corndog play from last year.
It was the ultimate redemption story for Hardman, who stood out when the game mattered most and Super Bowl 58 was on the line, Hardman was the recipient of the game-winning touchdown. Not only that, but Hardman also caught Mahomes's longest pass of the day with a 53-yard catch in the first half.
After the game, Hardman was very excited that he caught the winning touchdown of the biggest game in his NFL career, but he blacked out and had no idea of the impact of his play.
This catch will go down as one of the biggest in Hardman’s career and it was a scenario no one could have seen coming into the 2023 season. Chiefs Kingdom can once again thank Chiefs general manager Brett Veach for the in-season trade that led to another Super Bowl victory. Chiefs are back-to-back Super Bowl Champions.