The Kansas City Chiefs selected Patrick Mahomes in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He has gone on to become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, winning two Super Bowls and two league MVPs.
On Sunday, Mahomes will play in the fourth Super Bowl of his career. The now 28-year-old has been a starting quarterback for six seasons, reaching the AFC Championship Game in each of those years. Over time, Mahomes has gone through experiences which have helped him grow both as a quarterback and as a man.
The version of Mahomes who hoisted his first career VInce Lombardi trophy after Super Bowl LIV, is now a different person and player than he was back then. Mahomes attributes his evolution to fatherhood. “I think you learn a ton being a father, man. You learn how to be patient,” Mahomes said this week ahead of Super Bowl LVIII.
At times, Mahomes’ role of being a father can intersect with being a quarterback, with one job essentially making him better at the other.
“You learn how to try to really boost people’s confidence, especially your kids. Through seasons like I’ve had this last year, it’s never losing hope, never going too negative in adverse times. Just continue to boost people’s confidence, continue to strive for hard work and really be patient.”
Mahomes’ patience certainly has been put to the test this season — especially when it concerns the Chiefs wide receiver corps. The group faced seemingly constant criticism this season due to a high volume of dropped passes.
In Week 11, Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a critical drop in the fourth quarter that effectively sealed the Chiefs’ fate in a Monday night game against the Eagles. In a December game, Kadarius Toney tipped a pass from quarterback Patrick Mahomes that allowed a New England Patriots player to intercept the ball.
Mahomes also had to exercise patience as the Chiefs’ offense committed the second-most penalties in the league. Sometimes Mahomes was able to choke back his angst, while other times he could not quite hold his emotions back.
In some ways, Mahomes had to reinvent himself, becoming what he once seemed to loath: a game manager.
Unlike that championship run four years ago, or the two Super Bowls since that earned Mahomes a second ring, the Chiefs this season did not rely entirely on their offense to carry them. They had the No. 2 scoring defense in the NFL, which had to bail out Mahomes’ side of the ball when it was struggling so mightily midway through the season.
So while he can still make the audacious no-look throw, or throw that wizardly rocket through double coverage, he also learned to check down to running backs when deep shots were covered. He accepted that audibles to running plays when defenses stacked the line of scrimmage were not the worst thing in the world. Mahomes even learned that he could take a sack when it was most beneficial to keep the clock running, which he did in the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens.
“I think guys understood,” Mahomes said upon reflection, “that we could play a different way to win football games.”
“He’s the catalyst. He’s the reason why we’re here and why we’re able to keep coming back to back,” said Cheifs tight end Travis Kelce said in reference to Mahomes. “And honestly, he just gives his team a certain sense of urgency and confidence that we can go and get it done, and that goes a long way.”
Mahomes has always been mature beyond his years, even if he didn’t always possess the patience that comes with experience. He almost had to be, because growing up, Mahomes was so much better than other kids his own age that he would usually have to play against older ones, whether that was in football, basketball or his first love, baseball.
The son of longtime big league pitcher Pat Mahomes recalled that one time, during a T-ball game, a grounder was hit toward him at shortstop. Most kids at that level would throw a looping rainbow to first base, but he sent a laser across the diamond.
“It hit the kid right in the face and broke his glasses,” Mahomes said with a smile, “and so they told me after that they wanted me to roll the ball to first base, and I ended up just playing first base and catching it from then on.”
The San Francisco 49ers take on the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.