Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes Reflects On His Path To Greatness
The NFL’s most talented quarterback opens up.
In 2019, quarterback Patrick Mahomes of Tyler, Texas, led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years. They defeated the San Francisco 49ers, and Mahomes was named Super Bowl MVP, only the second Black quarterback and the youngest ever to take home the honor.
A 10-year contract extension with a potential worth of $503 million (the third-largest in sporting history), was his reward. It was money well spent as he took his team to the Super Bowl again the following year, this time against the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When Mahomes emerged from the locker room after a grueling 31-9 loss, he was stunned to find Brady waiting outside the door.
“The biggest thing he said was, ‘Stay with the process and be who you are,” as Mahomes told Heavy.com. “He didn’t want me to change at all. He wanted me to go out there and take advantage of every single day. When you hear it from a guy like that, who’s had the success at the level that he’s had for his entire career, you know you’ve got to take advantage of every single day if you want to be great.”
The son of MLB pitcher Pat Mahomes, and the godson of pitcher LaTroy Hawkins, it was clear sports was in Patrick’s future from an early age, and he initially played baseball before turning to the gridiron. The number ten draft pick in 2016, Mahomes was lucky to sign with Kansas City, a competitive team with a 12-4 record at the time.
He spent his rookie season as backup to veteran Alex Smith, but became the starter in 2018 when he threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns, making him the only quarterback in history to throw for over 5,000 yards in a single season in both college and the NFL.
That year, he was named to the Pro Bowl, named First Team All Pro, and won the NFL Offensive Player of the Year and NFL Most Valuable Player awards. And in 2023 he led the Chiefs to a 38-35 victory over the Eagles at Super Bowl LVII with another thrilling MVP performance, clinching Kansas City’s second Super Bowl in the past four seasons.
Here, Mahomes shares some insights to his incredible success.
You’ve said your dad really let you walk in your own shoes as a young athlete, and you’d do the same for your kids. Can you explain how he toed that line between teacher/coach and allowing you to grow independently?
“First off, my Godfather LaTroy [Hawkins] and my dad [MLB pitcher Pat Mahomes] are two people I’ve always leaned on, [who taught me] how to go about your business, how to make sure that your sport is the first priority but still be out in the community and be able to do the things you want to do. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of great people [who] have all kind of shed light on certain things that helped them in their careers, and those are conversations that I always go back to in finding ways to better myself.”
It seems like some players really match their cities, and now you seem almost inextricably linked to Kansas City. The community has embraced you and you’ve seemed to have embraced them right back.
“I’ve been blessed to be in a lot of great communities. Growing up in Tyler, Texas, and then going to [Texas Tech in] Lubbock and now here, the people genuinely care about you as a human being as well as a football player.
“Being blessed to be in those environments has helped me be able to trust people and go out in the community and give that passion and love back to them…. I enjoy going out there and being a part of this community, knowing I’ve prepared myself well that I can go out and execute the game plan and try to win football games. [And] I have said it since day one, it truly is special the love the community has for the Chiefs and for this organization. We try to show that love back to them.”
One of the things that (as an outsider) appears to have really helped your development was your one year as a rookie, learning under a former #1 draft pick and widely respected veteran in quarterback Alex Smith. Was that as important as it seems?
“I learned about just having a routine. Alex was the same. He watched these games on this day, watched these games on that day, focused on [something else] the next day. I have kind of taken stuff from that and made it my own. I make sure I am prepared for every single situation. That is something that he was great at and still is. That has helped me a lot as you get on the field and you get an unscouted look, you are prepared for that un-scouted look and you can make the right protection call and get yourself into the right play.”
How much did you benefit from learning how to stay calm during the season from Smith?
“Yeah, you have to build it up. You can’t peak too soon. You can’t watch a ton of film and [then be] just dead tired because you watched too much film on these guys. You have to kind of build and have a certain plan on how you are going to watch the film on these guys, to really not waste film I guess you would say, but execute everything that you need to learn from watching these guys. Then at the same time, make sure you are prepared and ready to go for the game.”
During the off-season you were able to work on your off-the-field relationship with Bills QB Josh Allen. What do you make of the rivalry between you two?
“When you go up against the other great quarterbacks in the league, you always want to win. You always want to compete. Josh is a great guy. He’s a great quarterback—physically talented, he can throw, can run, he can really do it all…. Obviously when we’re on the football field, we are competing against each other and we want to beat each other’s teams, but I have a ton of respect for him as a player and the person that he is….
“He’s a tremendous player. They put a lot on his shoulders, and he rises to the occasion. He’s able to run the ball, he can throw the ball, he has the arm strength to throw it anywhere on the football field, and he makes great decisions. Like you said we’ll probably play [the Bills] a lot of times, it’ll be great competition and it’s definitely a great challenge for us as a team to compete with them.”
Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury, your former coach at Texas Tech, said it would be surreal to face you on the field. What were your thoughts on that?
“He’s someone who taught me a ton, not only about football but about life. He got me kind of out of high school where I was a baseball player trying to play football, and basically trying to be on my own. You’re leaving the household and kind of being on your own, and he helped me become who I am today, and [it’s] cool to play against him.
“Hopefully, I get the win because you’ll have those little ‘bragging rights’, you know, because I see him every once in a while, in the offseason, out in Lubbock and stuff like that, so it’s definitely going to be an awesome moment that we’ll have forever. Just hopefully, I get the win, so I can have those bragging rights for the rest of time” [NB the Chiefs went on to win the game].
Compiled from various NFL transcripts and assembled with the help of the Kansas City Chiefs. Edited for length and clarity.