For most of you, this is something you've been anticipating for months. But for some of you, this probably snuck up or you didn't even realize it was happening at all. Whatever group you're in, the Wednesday release of Netflix's Quarterback docuseries is without question the talk of the town in the sports world at the moment, with many fans of the Vikings, maybe the Falcons, and certainly those of us here in Chiefs Kingdom having already binged this ode to the most heralded, criticized, and complex position in all of professional sports.
For our under-the-rock friends, Netflix's new series followed Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throughout the course of the 2022 season for an all-access look at the life—both on and off the football field—of an NFL quarterback.
For Kansas City, this documentary hits a little differently. Even the idea of football and the sight of Patrick Mahomes is making everyone in KC absolutely salivate in the dog days of the summer. If you’re not watching a kid get knocked senseless during the home run derby, you’ve been starving for something like this. The fame and favor that Mahomes holds in Chiefs Kingdom, gives the fans an opportunity to see a side of the all-world extraterrestrial quarterback that will somehow make you love him more.
The trio certainly represents a diverse spread in the professional quarterbacking experience. You have Marcus Mariota, who was a highly touted prospect as a Heisman Trophy winner drafted number 2 overall in 2015 but is now fighting to remain relevant in the NFL. Kirk Cousins was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 Draft after the Redskins had taken Robert Griffin III with the number 2 overall pick, but now finds himself as the "franchise" quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings with the increasing weight of expectations that are time and time again not met. And then you have Patrick Mahomes, the 2-time MVP, 2-time Super Bowl MVP, and 2-time reigning and defending Super Bowl champion who is squarely at the top of all of the dogs in the pile as far as the NFL quarterback pecking order is concerned.
If the series lives up to the spectacle and insight that was provided by episode 1, then we are in for a ride. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of you have likely already binged this entire ~8 hours of programming and this review and collections of observations from the first episode will likely be old news to you, but some of us have infant children and have to watch television like we did back in the old days, one episode at a time.
With the series being so clearly segmented into thirds as it covers the life and times of these three very different signal callers, I felt it'd be appropriate to share my observations from the first all-inclusive look we've gotten into each of their worlds.
If there was a third wheel in episode 1, it was certainly Mariota. That's to be expected, in my opinion. He's by far the least accomplished of the 3 field generals in the series, but far from the least compelling. Mariota's journey from Heisman winning second overall pick to journeyman status is one that is certainly compelling, and as the series progresses there will definitely be layers of context and emotion added to the Mariota storyline, but for now, we're a little dry here.
Mariota and Cousins both should be a reminder to everyone how unpredictable the NFL Draft can be. In 2015 everyone thought Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were sure bets. Now both are going to be fighting for their lives, again. Eight years is an eternity in the NFL. Cousins was a guy taken as an insurance policy to the number 2 overall pick who has now made over $200 million in his career from football alone as the franchise quarterback for two clubs. It's unbelievable how predictable prospect evaluation can truly be.
It’s also interesting to get an inside look into the day-to-day of a guy who is battling like Mariota compared to a guy who knows he is the guy and can’t be touched, like Mahomes. The body language that you see from Mariota, even in practice around Falcons rookie Desmond Ridder, is lightyears away from the swagger with which Mahomes operates, for numerous reasons. Then you have Kirk Cousins, right there in the middle. As I said earlier, this is one of the more interesting dichotomies Netflix could have secured from the current NFL quarterbacking ecosystem.
areKirk Cousins has to be one of the most unintentionally hilarious guys in the world, let alone the NFL. His demeanor and the way he lifts guys up is awesome, and he truly seems like an absolutely great dude, but the guy just gives off massive dork energy,
This is a little unfair for my first observations from Cousin's portion of the documentary, but am I the only person who instantly thought "Kirk Cousins's kid may or may not be too old to have a pacifier"? I know I'm not, because I got that observation from my wife, so before you attack understand you're taking on the whole squad. As the father of a 2-month-old, I understand the power of the paci. But that kid looked like he was 12. Now, with a quick bit of Google-fueled, research I found that his 2 sons are 4 and 6 years old, but my point kind of still stands. But Kirk Cousins is just letting the little man do his thing and likely encouraging him in every way possible.
As I watched the Cousins portion, I kept thinking to myself that coming into a season with Kirk Cousins is the ultimate fanhood paradox. Every season you come in with the hope that maybe, just maybe your very talented roster can finally make a run with Kirk Cousins at quarterback. With enough research, experimentation, and all the digging in the world you can do you can either be 100% correct, or you couldn’t be more wrong. It could quite literally go either way, and at this point, I'm confident that fans of the Vikings are fairly apathetic to any result at this point outside of a Super Bowl win.
Honestly, though, how could you not love playing with a guy like Kirk Cousins? Consummate professional, one of the most uplifting, positive, and well-spoken guys in the room, and when it boils down to it just a really nice guy. The scene from episode 1 where Cousins praises Justin Jefferson for his finishing ability on a touchdown in a Week 1 victory over the Packers is so wholesome it made me smile out loud. He's one of those guys who is impossible to like, but unfortunately for Vikings fans, it's because he's arguably the most harmless quarterback in the NFL.
Kirk Cousins could as easily be a pharmaceutical sales rep as he could be an NFL quarterback. His closet looks like every suburban dad's in the US, and his cherry demeanor almost makes you wonder if he's thinking about a career change as a middle-class fancy social media influencer. I will give him this - Kirk Cousins back yard is sick. His yard was nearly perfectly manicured - a mowing job I'm confident he did on his own - and the fire pit setup is something every dad dreams of. Also, if I had 30 guesses as to what his dog’s name was, I would only need 1 to guess Cooper.
Let's be honest, this is where everyone was truly turned in. Not just in Chiefs Kingdom, but across the NFL landscape. Mahomes is silently the star of this documentary, but not so subtly becoming the face of the National Football League. Mahomes has graduated from the shadow of a previous legendary quarterback and is now the head of a loaded class of next-generation stars.
But even with all of the accolades that he's racked up in his already historic career, all of the hardware that he's brought to not just his personal trophy case but additional trophies and banners that will adorn Arrowhead Stadium forever, Mahomes still finds a way to relate on a very human level. Most of you know exactly what I'm talking about from episode 1—Mahomes is every guy on the planet taking pictures with their significant other. Every man in the Kingdom felt the words “there’s got to be a good one” in their soul.
Mahomes is a man of the people and of the dogs, as well. In a scene that was potentially geared towards crafting a more likable reputation for his wife Brittany, Mahomes provided a little comic relief and yet again relatability by doing something we've all done - screaming at our dogs outdoors because they're barking at the neighbor's dogs. But for every way that we can find to relate to Mahomes, we're time and time again reminded in episode 1 that Mahomes is indeed different.
The competitive fire he displays is ridiculous. The fact that Mahomes immediately told the Bucs defense “I’m like that” after the incredible spinning TD pass to Clyde Edwards-Helaire made me actually giggle out loud. That's the glorious part of watching something like this - you know when you're watching the games that this level of trash talk is occurring, but until you hear the content and the context of the jargon you don't really feel the moment. This makes you feel those moments.
The Maxx Crosby portion was something that made me truly understand exactly how much of a dog Mahomes truly is. First of all, watching Andrew Wylie get worked by Maxx Crosby made me remember why I don’t miss Andrew Wylie. In the same breath, seeing Patrick Mahomes absolutely alpha dog the life out of Crosby and the Raiders reminded me of why I haven’t thought about it much.
“You woke up the wrong mother f***er...I'm here!”. Pardon my French, but holy crap. If that didn't fire you up, check your pulse.
I got the same feeling from the first episode of this that I did from the first episode of The Last Dance, the 10-part docuseries that covered Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls that was released in the summer of 2020. It far surpasses the most recent Netflix dive in the sports world in its Full Swing docuseries that followed the PGA Tour through its controversial 2022 season, which was wildly entertaining in its own right. Quarterback, if it continues - which you figure it will, could have just established itself as the official “football is back” moment of the off-season and one of the best sports documentary series ever. Training camp starts in literally 10 days. And here we are, reliving one of the most iconic seasons an individual player has had in the history of the NFL, wondering what could be for yet another promising campaign.
I'm probably biased, but it will be tough for Netflix to continually captivate in a docuseries if it doesn't include Mahomes each year. Sure, there are other interesting and extremely talented quarterbacks in the NFL, but this is about to be a glimpse into the mind and heart of one of the all-time killer instinct-dripping competitors in the history of the game. The golden era of Chiefs football is now, and the young, aw-shucks version of Patrick Mahomes has officially died with this documentary and is instead being replaced with a stone-cold assassin of a competitor that appears to be just getting started.