For many (or even most) Americans, 2020 is somewhere on a scale from terrible to terrible.
Then there is Patrick Mahomes, who is this year:
1. Kansas City Chiefs were awarded the Super Bowl title.
2. Signed contract extension up to one billion dollars.
3. got engaged to his long time girlfriend.
And he still has about four months to go.
The NFL season opens on Thursday, with the Mahomes and Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans. Lamar Jackson reigns MVP. Tom Brady is attempting a late career reboot in Tampa. Los Angeles and Las Vegas are unveiling new palaces. From Drew Breeks to Dak Prescott to Cam Newton, whatever happens in Chicago, there is a rich story everywhere.
Nevertheless, it is the Mahomes League right now.
He is still incredibly young – turning 25 on September 17 and entering his third season as a starter.
He is still incredibly talented – his ability to cater to some of his peers may also be rational.
He is still growing as a player – in March, he revealed on HBO’s “The Shop” that he did not know how to read defense until the middle of the 2019 season.
“I understood the coverage, but [not] How to protect small trends [the] Brady and the stuff he does, they know it, and they just do it, ”said Mahomes, who did not fully focus on football until he quit baseball as a sophomore at Texas Tech. “I was just playing.”
That means that in 2018, he threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns and was named by the NFL MVP … “just the game.”
He is always “just game”, though.
Why does it matter how great his 2020 has been – did we mention that he became a part owner of the Kansas City Royals? – He is most excited about “playing again”, especially in a year when the season wasn’t always guaranteed to happen.
Mahomes said, “I’m just as excited, I promise you that”. “Every time I go to the football field, go to Arrowhead Stadium, or wherever we are playing, and suit up for the Chiefs, I have the ultimate excitement. [It doesn’t] Matter if it’s the president or in the Super Bowl.
“I’m just going to go out there and embrace that moment, get out there with my brothers and play the game we love because we didn’t know it was going to happen.”
It is this approach that anchors everything with Mahomes, the basic mindset that leads to almost every achievement in life.
From an early age, as the legendary son of a major league pitcher, he has had a career competing in sports. The stage and salary have changed. There is nothing else.
He played baseball, absolutely. From his father’s acting as a pitcher in East Texas to flying balls to shagging before his father’s game at such a young age that MLB coaches were concerned at first, he got hurt. He would eventually play college ball and be drafted by the Detroit Tigers. He credits his pitching for his hand strength and ability to throw the football. All kinds of unusual angles.
He played basketball, as you can tell when he runs and passes through the open field. He was a pure point guard, and many in Whitehouse, Texas believe he had the most natural athleticism in that game. He really lacked the height (6-foot-3) to be a big-time prospect.
He played football, but it was more about the competition than anything. “Football was my number 3 sport,” Mahomes said. When he was a quarterback in youth and junior high football, he did not hesitate to switch to safety as a high school so he could get on the field. (Whitehouse High had a senior QB who played college football.)
He will play anything though. He can crush a golf ball. He is a frequent competitor in ping pong. He was a prolific high jumper in junior high track and field. Dude still talks in a hashed tone at the way he can bend a ball. Even in high school, naturally right-handed mahoms sometimes bat lefty for fun.
“He was a gym class kid who could do everything better than other kids,” said Adam Cook, Mahomes’ high school football head coach.
He would basically hang out with the same group of friends and just play. The weather and the game will just run together.
“We all played baseball,” Mahomes said. “We all played basketball. They were my widest. It started there with my creativity. They would run the route and then change the route because they knew how to open. “
What emerged was a player of immense talent with competitive instincts and true joy in competition. Part of that comes through what he can do on the field – no-look passes, deep bombs. And through that part comes into how he does – in ways that no one is expecting, with a big smile on his face.
Now and again, same deal. So even in a year when he has accomplished almost everything he could have dreamed of, he mostly just wants to start again.
“Play it back,” Mahomes said, not shying away from trying to repeat as Super Bowl Champs.
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