By Lenn Robbins
THE SETTING: We deserve this. After all we’ve been through, with so much we still have to endure, we deserve this Super Bowl matchup. Hell, we’ve earned it.
Let’s relish this football feel-good story for the next two weeks by beginning this wonderful, whimsical discussion: Will Super Bowl VL be a showcase of the greatest quarterback of all time and the player most likely to wear that bedazzled helmet one day?
Sit with this: Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes on the same field in what has become the biggest sports event in America. It’s America’s Game featuring the Ali-Frazier of football.
Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr., The Goat, and Patrick Lavon Mahomes II, The Kid.
Brady, 43, and Mahomes, 25, defining and redefining the most important position in team sports.
After leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 31-26 win over the Packers in Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game, Brady is headed to his 10th Super Bowl. 10th!
“Undisputed greatest of all time,” J.J. Watt stated on Twitter. “Not even remotely debatable.”
Brady will be playing for a record 7th Super Bowl title and record 5th Super Bowl MVP trophy. He will join Peyton Manning as the only quarterback to win Super Bowls with two teams if the Bucs prevail. He owns every Super Bowl passing record, many of which will stand forever.
Until Brady left the New England Patriots to join Tampa Bay, the Bucs had won one road playoff game in franchise history. They won three road playoff games to become the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium – Raymond James.
Brady was the 199th player picked (sixth round) in the 2000 draft. He was the seventh quarterback selected.
After leading the Kansas City Chiefs to a 38-24 home win over the Buffalo Bills, Mahomes, has a chance to become the first quarterback to win two Super Bowls before the age of 26.
The Chiefs can become the first franchise since Brady’s 2004-05 Patriots to win back-to-back titles. Mahomes would join this uber elite fraternity consisting of Brady, John Elway, Troy Aikman, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Brian Griese and Bart Starr.
When the Chiefs trailed the Bills 9-0 in the AFC Championship Game, The Kid worked the sidelines, pumping up his teammates. The Chiefs won by 14. No player has ever rallied a team from nine or more down to win by nine or more. Mahomes has done it four times, per CBS Sports.
“You guys are seeing him grow right in front of you,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters in a virtual news conference. “You’re seeing the steps that he’s taking.”
Mahomes was the 10th player picked in the 2017 NFL Draft. He was the second quarterback selected.
Tom Brady is partial to classic dark suits, white shirts, subdued ties and favors a pocket square. He’s taken his share of ribbing for wearing UGG boots and his most recent fashion statement was when he split his pants in a charity golf event.
He plays as he dresses. Brady drops into the pocket where stays at home like an agoraphobic. He beats defenses before the ball is snapped.
“The thing that stands out is all the pre-snap stuff that he does so well, and handling everything at the line of scrimmage and communicating stuff to his teammates and whatnot,” ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky told reporters. “He’s light years ahead of everybody.”
Brady’s longest run from scrimmage is 22 yards. His longest pass completion is 99 yards. He does not improvise with his feet although his footwork in the pocket buys precious tenths of a second.
He moves defenders with his eyes and head movements. He’s posted 13 seasons with a quarterback rating of 90 or better.
‘At this point in his career, he’s just playing chess,” said Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans.
Patrick Mahomes is partial to ripped jeans, sweatpants, hoodies and he has about 180 pairs of sneakers, which is perfect for quarterback that always seems to be on the move. He’s taken his share of ribbing for his haircut which apparently does not get you a State Farm discount.
When the Chiefs traded up to draft Mahomes with the 10th pick in the 2017 draft there was a difference of opinion. One Chiefs fan posted on Twitter:
Damn this. You’ve got to be kidding me. Patrick Mahomes gets picked over DeShaun Watson? Really.
Really. Since then he has made a mockery of defenses by playing quarterback like Gumby throwing it back. He throws the ball underhand, behind-the-back, pitches it forward, pitches it back, fakes pitching it…to be continued. When he doesn’t see a receiver open, he breaks a defense’s soul with his legs.
Mahome’s longest completion is 89 yards. He’s had 10 games with at least one run of 20 yards. He’s run for 808 yards in four seasons, 237 less than Brady has run for in 21 seasons.
“I’m the old guy who has seen a couple of quarterbacks, and this guy seems to amaze me a little bit more every game,” said Reid.
A few months after last season’s Super Bowl win, Mahomes opened up about his development as a quarterback. This statement should come with a warning label for defensive coordinates.
“I understood coverages but how to be able to pick up little tendencies defenses do, stuff that Brady and them have done, they know it, and they just do it,” Mahomes said. “I was just playing.”
THE EPILOGUE: Brady was not blessed with Mahome’s athleticism and Mahome’s does not have Brady’s 21-year library of experience.
After playing the first 20 years of his career in New England winning six championships, this is the first of a two-year deal he signed with the Bucs. Getting to a Super Bowl is unfathomably difficult so this could be Brady’s last championship run. If he gets time to throw, Brady should solidify a legacy that will never be duplicated
After playing the first three years of his career in Kansas City, Mahomes signed a 10-year, $45-million extension that will keep him in the Heartland until 2032. Having already won one Super Bowl, Mahomes could be on the cusp of multiple championships. If he gets his average of 65 plays per game, Mahomes can cement his style of play as the formula for winning over the next decade.
It is not Brady vs Mahomes. It’s Brady and Mahomes. We’ve earned this.