No matter what happens in Sunday’s Super Bowl 55, the National Football League is aware the future rests in the hands of Kansas City’s quarterback Patrick Mahomes rather than Tampa Bay’s seemingly ageless Tom Brady.
Brady, 43 years old and going for his seventh Super Bowl victory in 10 tries, said he wants to play until he’s at least 45. Brady was winning rings when Mahomes was just a kid, the son of Pat Mahomes, who spent 11 seasons pitching in baseball’s Major Leagues. Mahomes, at 25 the reigning Super Bowl MVP, will still be around long after Brady if he remains healthy.
From a marketing and athletic standpoint, the future all belongs to Mahomes. He should be winning Super Bowls long after Brady retires.
Mahomes said he followed quarterbacks like Brett Favre, Aaron Rogers and yes, Brady, when he was a kid. He knows his legacy is tied to them, as well as the greats in other sports.
“If you look at guys like Tom, Michael and Kobe. LeBron, A-Rod, all these special guys, you just see that their work ethic and drive to win is just different than everybody else’s,” Mahomes said the other day during a pre-Super Bowl media session at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. “That’s what makes them special. Hopefully I can do whatever I can to have that same work ethic and drive when I look back on it at the end of my career.”
It’s been a whirlwind year for Mahomes since the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 31-20, to win Super Bowl 54 in Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. Before the coronavirus hit and a summer of Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Mahomes spread his marketing wings.
He signed a multi-year deal as an equity partner in BioSteel Sports Nutrition, and subsequently invested in the ownership of MLB’s Kansas City Royals. He’s been a relentless TV pitchman for such products as Hunt’s Ketchup, DIRECTV and State Farm Insurance.
As a baseball player, Mahomes said he pitched one game for Texas Tech in 2015 and faced three batters, walking the first, hitting the second and allowing a run-scoring double.
“Then I was taken out of the game,” he said. “I think I have an infinity ERA, which probably is not a very good one. That’s something I’m not very proud to have on my record.”
He chose the right path in football.
The mammoth 10-year, $503 million contract extension Mahomes signed in 2020 with the Chiefs gives him the ability to do whatever he wants in the business world and as budding first-time parent. His wife Brittany is expecting right around or after the big game.
“We’re extremely ready and excited,” he said. “We have everything planned out to be great parents.”
The contract paid him a $100 million signing bonus and includes $141.5 million of guaranteed money, unusual in the NFL where most contracts are not guaranteed.
Despite his growing success, Mahomes said dealing with social issues gave him more pride than anything this past year.
“Obviously, the voter registration was huge, not only getting all of our team registered to vote, but to present it to Kansas City, getting voting machines at Arrowhead Stadium, and show people that we support them using their voice,” Mahomes said.
“But, for me, I think it was the open dialogue we had within the team. People with all different kinds of backgrounds expressing their views, coming to together, making us even closer. That’s just a small sample of what we can do in this country to help become more unified and better as we continue to move forward and make progress.”
But right in front of Mahomes are the Buccaneers and Brady, who led the Patriots to those six Super Bowl wins and nine previous appearances—both records—leaving New England this past summer to sign a two-year deal worth $50 million with Tampa.
Brady’s career numbers are glaring in comparison to any other quarterback, particularly a player as young as Mahomes. His 33 playoff wins to six for Mahomes is only one aspect of the differences. Brady’s all-time lead in that category is even more stark when compared to the runner up: Joe Montana, who finished his career with 12.
Mahomes realizes he has a long way to go.
“The goal is to play in as many Super Bowls as possible and to be in this game every single year,” Mahomes said. “I’m going to have that mindset every single time I hit the field, and I’m trying to get back in this game. We don’t look that far ahead. I’m focused on this game right now. I’m trying to win this Super Bowl, hold that Lombardi Trophy and win that second ring. But if I’m at the end of my career and I have a lot of Super Bowl rings on my hands I’ll be happy.”
Brady, who defeated Rogers and the Green Bay Packers in the most recent NFC title game, said this week he admires Mahomes’ repeat run to the Super Bowl particularly during a season that has been dominated by COVID infections and protocols.
“To bring his team right back to the Super Bowl, which is incredibly tough to do, [is really impressive] because you’re getting every team’s best game every week,” Brady said. “He’s facing a lot of unique challenges at an early age that are just going to keep serving him well.”
As far as Mahomes’ skills, Brady added: “He just has a great awareness of the pocket. Incredible vision of the field, he knows exactly when to get rid of the ball. He’s got that nice, sweet little whippy arm that I used to have when I was a little bit younger. He’s got the athletic ability to extend plays. He’s got all the physical and mental tools. He’s going be in this game quite a few more times, in my opinion.”
Mahomes seemed pleased with the Brady comparisons, saying, “I try to do the best I can to show respect for the people who came before me.”
With Brady on the field, “The one thing you have to understand is that this game’s never going to be over, knowing the two teams that are playing,” Mahomes said. “No one’s going to give up until that clock hits zero and the score is the score. You understand why the talk is the talk, and you understand how great Tom Brady is. It’s a big game to play in the Super Bowl against him.”