After winning his first Super Bowl, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was supposed to have a straightforward summer: First sign a blockbuster new contract. Then prepare to repeat. But when a pandemic gave way to a protest movement that implicated the NFL, the game’s brightest star began to find his voice—and prove that he’s as adroit off the field as he is on it.
Patrick Mahomes calls right on time. When my phone rings, the area code flashes “Tyler, Texas,” where the young Kansas City Chiefs quarterback grew up. It’s early June and a pivotal point in an already momentous off-season. Whatever he might have expected as he walked off the field in February—a first-time Super Bowl winner, coronation complete, celebration on the horizon—was upended by a generational pandemic. And now, historic protests roil the country. Two weeks have passed since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, and the 24-year-old Mahomes is still trying to make sense of the moment.
Just a few days earlier, Mahomes had joined more than a dozen other Black NFL stars—Odell Beckham Jr., Michael Thomas, and Saquon Barkley among them—in a powerful 71-second video, calling on their employer to condemn racism. It shouldn’t have been a bold assertion. But, of course, it was. While nearly every big American corporation was addressing the significant work to be done on racial justice and equality, the NFL was being asked to address a particularly egregious track record. This is a league in which 70 percent of players are Black but only three coaches, two general managers, and zero majority owners are; a league in which the response to Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality was to promptly run him out of a job.
This time, though, the reaction was different. Less than a day after the players’ video, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell filmed a clip of his own, offering a point-by-point affirmation of the players’ requests. According to a report from ESPN, a key factor in his swift response was the participation of one young player in particular: Patrick Mahomes.
“I understand my platform,” Mahomes tells me. “I understand that my part in the video is a big part of it.” He was working out a new contract, and knew that speaking up might prompt some blowback that could negatively affect those talks. “I’m in the middle of negotiating my next contract, to hopefully be a Kansas City Chief for a long time, but I still thought this was important enough and this was something that had to be said. It wasn’t something I could sit back on and worry about my next contract, because I needed to use my platform to help. Sometimes it’s not about money. It’s not about fame. It’s about doing what’s right.”
Mahomes had spent a lot of time listening in recent days. He’d been on the phone—with other players; with members of his family, some of whom are police officers; with Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt; and with Goodell. His conversations left him feeling optimistic, particularly his discussions with Hunt and Goodell. “They, as much as us, want to do the right thing,” he says.
Though the extent of Goodell’s willingness to change remains to be seen, Mahomes sounds committed to a dialogue. During his chat with the commissioner, Mahomes says, Goodell was curious about the young quarterback’s perspective and about what he wanted to see and do going forward. Mahomes explained that he wants to draw attention to voter-registration efforts: “Helping young adults, but especially the Black community, get registered to vote. It’s the first step.” (Days later, Mahomes would announce that he’d be lending his support to LeBron James’s More Than a Vote organization, to boost voter-registration efforts and battle voter suppression.)
He also talked with Goodell about NFL teams hiring personnel tasked with helping players become more useful activists in their communities. “I remember talking about having maybe a social-justice officer that can point people in the right direction,” he says. “So whenever you wanna help out the community, you have someone that works with the team that can help.” He was encouraged. “It was a great conversation,” Mahomes says. “It lasted, like, 30 minutes to an hour.”
In a summer of tumult and change, as even seasoned vets like Drew Brees are fumbling along, Patrick Mahomes is stepping up and looking for ways to utilize his new leadership role in the league.
Concrete proof that Mahomes has that type of juice came only a few weeks later, after he finalized that contract he’d been negotiating: a ten-year deal reportedly worth up to $503 million. It’s the most lucrative contract in the history of sports, and a deal made at a moment when coronavirus could have a dramatic financial impact on NFL revenue. “I couldn’t be happier that I’m going to be in Kansas City for a long, long time,” he told me via text after the news broke. “We are building something special.”
For all the unknowns that swirl in and around the NFL, one thing about its future seems rock solid: It will center on Patrick Mahomes, who, at 24, is already the face of the league. Last season, merchandise bearing his name or likeness (everything from jerseys to trading cards to bobbleheads) outsold that of every other player, including Tom Brady, who’d had a two-year hold on that particular popularity contest. That’s what happens when you manage to earn league MVP and Super Bowl MVP honors before you’ve rounded 25. During that MVP season, he threw for more than 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns, something that only Peyton Manning has done. Manning did it in his 15th season as a starter, Mahomes in his first. And now he’s the favorite to win MVP this season (whenever that might be).
The stats and accolades, though, crazy as they are, have nothing on the highlights—oh, man, the highlights! An endlessly loopable reel showcasing a fluid, kinetic, andThink you have Mahomes dead cornered? He’ll run by you or pass around you—actually, maybe over you. Expect him to throw with his right hand (which would make sense: Mahomes is right-handed), and instead he’ll throw with his left. If people have traditionally been drawn to the NFL because of the violent car crashes on the field, Mahomes conjures something different—something more modern and perhaps hopeful. His is a playful, clever, graceful style that exploits cracks and opportunities that other players can’t even see—and just like Steph Curry in basketball, Mahomes ushers in a new sense of possibility. improvisational style of play that overturns notions of what football, a clunky game of schemes and slow, grinding attrition, can be.
He seems to delight in toying with expectations, even in the way he wins. In each of their three postseason games last season, the Chiefs trailed by at least 10 points—this includes a 24-point hole they got into against the Houston Texans and a 20–10 deficit they faced against the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Yet they won every game easily—by more than 10 points. The takeaway: Mahomes seems to be at his best when circumstances are at their worst. Travis Kelce, the Chiefs’ tight end and one of Mahomes’s favorite targets, says he “almost gets a little bit more excited when the play breaks down,” because that’s Mahomes’s “comfort zone.” Are you surprised, then, that in a summer of tumult and change, as even seasoned vets like Drew Brees are fumbling along, Patrick Mahomes is stepping up and looking for ways to utilize his new leadership role in the league? He’s reading the moment, gathering information, hunting for opportunity, his eyes up and his gaze downfield.
My first peek into Mahomes’s strange off-season came a month earlier, in May. By then, the obligations that follow winning a Super Bowl had largely been scrubbed or rescheduled because of the coronavirus, and Mahomes had hunkered down in Dallas with his girlfriend, Brittany Matthews.
They had originally planned to ride out the first couple of months of the off-season in an Airbnb and then buy a place in Texas next year, but then the virus hit, and with all that free time he got to thinking. He started poking around, found a home he liked, got a great deal, and figured, I’m just going to go ahead and get it. He and Brittany moved in about a week before Mahomes and I hopped on Zoom. When I reached him, he was sitting in his lofted study wearing a white T-shirt, his baby face and tousled hair giving him the look of a freshly roused teenager. The shelves were still bare. “I have really nothing but a computer in here,” he said through the computer. They were just getting settled. But already it was an improvement from the off-season that followed his rookie year, when the couple stayed in the upstairs guest bedroom at Brittany’s dad’s house to save a little money.
Even though those financial concerns have evaporated in a $503 million poof! the coronavirus created an entirely new set of problems. What if he lost a year when he was playing at historic levels and somehow still getting better, when his popularity was at an all-time high? What would that feel like? What would he do with all that time?
“I have zero idea,” he said. “Literally no idea.”
It was an anxious moment, and yet when Mahomes tells me this, he seems relatively unbothered. His pandemic routine keeps him steady. Though he flourishes in chaos on the field, off it Mahomes adheres to a strict regimen. He’s up at 7 a.m., often with no alarm. He flips on TV, usually ESPN—where occasionally he’ll find that he’s the topic of discussion—drinks his coffee, then drinks a pre-workout supplement concoction, in that order. At 9 a.m., a workout: an hour for arms, an hour and a half for legs. Then he eats lunch, after which some days he has a virtual meeting with teammates and coaches or he plays video games. Only in this narrow noon-to-2 p.m. window, though. He doesn’t “want to get lost in playing video games all day.” During the season he swears them off.
He’s become an avid golfer, and 3 p.m. is tee time, if COVID-19 restrictions allow him to play. If not, that’s when he hits the Peloton, using the screen name 2PM, a nod to his fascination with time and a reference to his full name, Patrick Mahomes II. He’s as fierce on a stationary bike as he is on the field. “I’m so damn competitive that I kill myself,” he tells me. “I see the leaderboard, and I see that, like, Brian from North Carolina is catching me, and I’m like: ‘There’s no way.’” Better, he’s found, to ride alone, where he opts for 30-minute scenic routes, riding to sunsets. By 5 p.m. he’s hanging out with Brittany and their two dogs. Then dinner and TV. Bedtime is 9:30, 10 at the latest.
This is not to suggest that Mahomes didn’t capitalize on any of the perks afforded a megastar Super Bowl winner. For instance, the day that the Chiefs paraded their Super Bowl trophy through Kansas City, Post Malone happened to be playing in town. What better way to extend the party? “We didn’t buy tickets,” Mahomes says. “But once we won the Super Bowl, we’re kinda like, ‘Can we get a suite?’” (They could.)
The rapper invited the quarterback to swing by for a quick hello before the show. The courteous Mahomes brought along a jersey “as a thank-you for having us out.” As Mahomes and his teammate Travis Kelce sized up the scene backstage, Post challenged the two to a friendly game of beer pong. (“I guess he loves beer pong,” Mahomes points out. And Bud Light. “That’s, like, his thing.”)
Post’s invitation turned out to be ill-advised. Mahomes and Kelce are the most effective quarterback-tight end duo in the NFL, and apparently they’re capable of doing as much damage on a sad-looking folding table backstage at a concert as they do on the field on Sundays. Though Mahomes described his beer pong game that night as merely good, he told me Kelce had been “unconscious.” When I asked him about it, Kelce said, “I don’t know if I’ve been that hot on the pong table ever in my life.”
As the pair rallied off a series of quick wins, Post Malone—wearing his brand-new Patrick Mahomes jersey, red like the Solo cups on the table—grew increasingly ruffled. (In an email, the rapper admitted to me that he’s a “pretty fucking competitive beer pong player.”) Post tried switching partners. He played with a buddy. Then another. He teamed up with Swae Lee, who had joined Post on tour.
After nine or ten games, Post is interrupted by his manager. It’s time, he’s told, to take the stage. But Post waves him off. He needs to win a game. Finally, around the 14th or 15th game, Post decides he needs to up the stakes. He hands a piece of paper to Mahomes and Kelce, and he asks them to write their signatures, and he promises to tattoo the autographs onto his body—you know, like, permanently—if they can beat him again. Dilly dilly!
Surely you know how this ends: Post loses. “He has a tattoo artist literally in the room,” recalls Mahomes, who sounds alarmed even in retrospect. “I’m like, ‘Dude, you do not actually have to get a tattoo of our autographs.’ ” And certainly, by now, you know this too: Post Malone is a man of his word, and gets his new tattoo done backstage, immediately after the show, inking onto himself a squiggly Patrick Mahomes autograph that looks like it had been written by someone who’d been drinking all day to be tattooed onto someone who’d been drinking all day. In asking Mahomes about that epic day, I set the over/under at 20 beers, to which he replied, “Way over,” but added that he doesn’t “know how many full beers I drank, because half the beers were on my clothes.” For his part, Post Malone told me he “thinks” it’s the only tat that ended up on his body as a result of a lost bet.“I’ve always just had the confidence and believed in who I am. And I’ve known that I’m Black. And I’m proud to be Black. And I’m proud to have a white mom too. I’m just proud of who I am.”
Fans of rival teams might be disappointed that Mahomes hasn’t spent this off-season on the typical victory lap: doing press, hobnobbing with famous people, perfecting his beer pong game. Of course he hasn’t. He’s been judicious with his time, even compared with a year ago. He told me that last off-season, after he’d won MVP, he’d overextended himself, saying yes to “all these things that I wanted to do but I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity to do.” He said he’d ended up burning out on commercials, banquets, and appearances. Now isolation has given Mahomes the thing he really wanted more of: time. In his post-Super Bowl press conference—after winning the most consequential sports contest in the world at age 24 and thus earning the right to say something outrageous—Mahomes summed up, in pretty sober terms, the outlook that seemed to account for his preposterously quick rise to the top: “I believe in maximizing every single day.”
When the protests began, and when the Saints’ Michael Thomas reached out to Mahomes and asked him to appear with the other players in that social media video, Mahomes said he did a lot of listening. He began talking with players across the league, from “five, six, seven different teams.” Trying to gather perspective and educate himself, he told me. He’d grown up in circumstances that differed from those of a lot of players. As the son of Pat Mahomes, a pitcher who spent a decade in the major leagues, he had access to a privileged realm; as the son of a Black father and white mother, he experienced a duality of identity that helped to shape his worldview. What has stuck with him in his conversations after George Floyd’s death were the stories guys shared about feeling unsafe. “They felt like they were in trouble when they were doing nothing wrong,” Mahomes said. “That stuff is what really hits home with me, because I’ve had those slight feelings before, but never to the extent that they have—of being really just targeted. And that’s something that’s really resonated with me.”
Mahomes told me that he’s been lucky enough to be spared some of what he called the “craziness that happens in this world” because of certain advantages: growing up in a small town as the son of an admired and well-known major leaguer and becoming a sports star at a young age himself. “I understand that not everyone feels like that,” he told me, “just from listening to people, from being around people growing up, from college to the NFL. The more I mature, I’ve learned that I was blessed to be in the situation that I was in.”
In recognizing and expressing gratitude for the many opportunities he’s had, Mahomes also tells me he’s proud of his Black heritage—a subject he notices is sometimes talked about online. “I’ve seen how people, on Twitter, have tweeted and said, ‘Oh, you’re not full Black,’ ” he said. “But I’ve always just had the confidence and believed in who I am. And I’ve known that I’m Black. And I’m proud to be Black. And I’m proud to have a white mom too. I’m just proud of who I am. And I’ve always had that confidence in myself.”
You don’t make it very far into an exploration of Patrick Mahomes—reading stories about him, watching him play, talking to others who know him—before coming across the importance of his self-confidence. That, too, goes back to his upbringing, or so the story goes. The prevailing origin myth has it that Patrick Mahomes became Patrick Mahomes—hardworking, endlessly professional, ice-cap cold in big moments—by chasing his MLB-playing father and soaking up the culture of the pro locker rooms of teams like the New York Mets and the Texas Rangers. It seemed like an incomplete idea every time I encountered it. After all, there are plenty of kids with professional-sports-playing fathers who don’t end up becoming Patrick Mahomes. But right from the beginning, Patrick Mahomes was not like other kids.
“You can be in that environment and be a kid and just have fun with it—run around the clubhouse, do this and that, eat all the bubble gum, eat all the Cracker Jacks,” says LaTroy Hawkins, Mahomes’s godfather, who played 21 seasons in the major leagues. “Patrick wasn’t doing all that. Patrick was trying to figure out how I threw my fastball. Talking to A-Rod, asking: ‘How can I hit the ball to right field like you hit the ball to right field?’ Most five-, six-, seven-year-olds, they’re just happy sitting there picking dandelions. He wasn’t happy just being there. He wanted to be a part of the culture that we had in our clubhouse.”
For Mahomes, growing up around guys like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mike Piazza wasn’t just a lesson in being a professional—putting in the time, knowing how to handle the media—it was also a psychology primer. He says he saw that, in a group of guys with various types of backgrounds, a variety of character types emerged. He studied the different ways you could be a pro athlete: Some players were unapproachable, others were more graceful and easygoing. The latter were more likely to take time with a young kid, let him hit with them.
“I always knew that if I got to the big leagues, that’s how I wanted to be,” says Mahomes. “I think that’s the biggest thing for me: I got to see those different personalities. It’s almost like I built the way that I wanted to be, whenever I got to this point.”That fluidity, the ability to move with ease and extend the small courtesies that count, was important to Mahomes. Kelce says “it’s something he developed, to be liked by the people around him, because he wants to be liked.” And he is. Gehrig Dieter, another Chiefs teammate, told me that “people connect with him on a personal level because he is a normal guy that just happens to be super good at football.” (As if to prove this point, Mahomes had a dozen Coors Lights—his favorite beer because it’s his dad’s favorite—shipped to my apartment as a thank-you for conducting one of our chats on a Saturday.)
If the clubhouse taught him who he wanted to be, sports showed him at a very young age what he wanted to do: He decided he would be a pro athlete. At first he thought it’d be in baseball. And for good reason: That arm was spinning magic tricks, even as a kid growing up in Tyler. He says that when he was four or five, he was playing with six-, seven-, and eight-year-olds and throwing the ball so hard that the grown-ups imposed special rules to keep him from hurting his teammates. If Mahomes was playing shortstop, he’d need to roll the ball across the infield to make a play at first. This wasn’t a helpful solution—his dad worried that rolling the ball would mess with his throwing mechanics—and so he moved for a while to first base.
“In my first year, what annoyed me more than anything is that people thought it was just my arm,” Mahomes says. “Everybody just talked about my arm instead of talking about how I was making the right decisions, going to the right place.”His father was right to be protective of that arm. By Mahomes’s junior year, he was starting at quarterback at Whitehouse High School and putting up gaudy numbers. His senior year, he threw for 4,600 yards, 50 touchdowns, and only four interceptions, but college coaches still thought his future was in baseball. Indeed, he was drafted after high school in the 37th round by the Detroit Tigers.
One coach who wasn’t deterred was Kliff Kingsbury of Texas Tech (and now the head coach of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals). When Mahomes arrived at Tech, he continued to play baseball, assuming he’d eventually enter the MLB draft again. But after a sophomore season in which he excelled as the Red Raiders’ starter, Kingsbury delivered a message to Mahomes, outlining a different future, if he wanted it: I know you love baseball. But if you focus on football for one full year, I think you’ll be a first-round draft pick next year. Mahomes decided to give football all of his attention, not just his talent. “I was like, ‘I need to work out. I need the weight room to be something different for me. I need the film study to be different for me. I need to take my game to that next level.’ ”
The Chiefs traded up to take him as the 10th pick in the 2017 draft. And we know how that worked out. But if Mahomes’s game-breaking talent has become evident to all, Kingsbury thinks the Chiefs also benefit from something more hidden: a “magic people don’t see,” an uncommon charisma.
“I’ve been around a couple of guys who can do this—Tom Brady was one of them: He can be one of the guys, and that’s why they all love him and they play their asses off for him, and when you talk to his teammates they rave about him. But when it’s time to step it up, they know how to separate and be the guy,” explains Kingsbury. “They’re secure in who they are. They’re genuine. They know they’re the baddest motherfucker on the field.”
Of course, Kingsbury is describing the kind of pro Mahomes looked up to as a kid: the exact kind of pro he wanted to be, a killer on the field, the commander of the locker room. I wasn’t surprised when Mahomes, in a Twitter statement calling for unity after George Floyd’s death, invoked a locker room: “I hope that our country can learn from the injustices that we have witnessed to become more like the locker room where everyone is accepted.”
It was a nod to a place that had always made sense to Mahomes, a place where people with different backgrounds and perspectives find common cause. The sort of place that had, from the very start, taught Mahomes that he could be exactly who he wanted to be.
It was only four years ago that Mahomes decided to play football full-time. Think about that for a second.
Though his inexperience and his swift rise seem incongruent, they’re actually intimately connected. Mahomes plays the way he does—and unlike any other quarterback—because he was never dedicated solely to football. “He didn’t go to all those camps where these quarterback coaches are telling you, ‘This is what you need to do to be successful,’ ” says Hawkins, his godfather. “He never was put in a box, so they never took away his athleticism and his ability to play-make. You don’t try to ride a mustang; you just let him run.”
All three of Mahomes’s football coaches (Adam Cook, who coached him in high school; Kingsbury; and the Chiefs’ Andy Reid) shared with me, separately, the importance of this idea. To his great fortune, Mahomes never had coaches bent on correcting what was unconventional about his game—his footwork, his throwing mechanics—or on tampering with the components from which he makes his magic.
On top of those natural gifts, he’s now adding experience. Mahomes says that he feels like he’s had more success in the NFL than in college because he has dedicated more time to the mental side of the game, and to watching more film, an approach that has “slowed the game down,” which he says is making it all easier. (Let that sink in too.) He knows this is often overlooked, due to the breathless focus on his physical gifts. “In my first year, what annoyed me more than anything is that people thought it was just my arm,” Mahomes says. “Everybody just talked about my arm instead of talking about how I was making the right decisions, going to the right place.” Mahomes compares his experience to that of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who won MVP last season. “He threw for over 30 touchdowns, but everybody just wanted to talk about the runs,” he says.
There is, of course, a fraught racial legacy of codes and stereotypes about NFL quarterbacks—about who gets celebrated for their “athleticism” and who gets praised for their mental acuity. I asked how much of the way his and Jackson’s games are talked about has to do with race. “There’s definitely some of it that has to,” he says. “And now we’re changing the narrative. We’re changing people’s perspective, showing that no matter what race you are, you can go out there and play the position the right way, and win a lot of football games doing it.”
Though Mahomes is aware now of the old prejudices, he says he was unburdened by them as a young quarterback. Of his coaches, he says, “I never felt like they were pushing me to be a certain player. They just wanted me to be who I was.”
It’s why he plays with such buoyant lightheartedness, unhindered by self-consciousness or doubt, no matter how deep the deficit or intractable the situation. “He hasn’t let any of the outside things get in the way,” Reid tells me. “And he’s played free, where he can keep his own style and vision within the scheme. That’s a unique thing with players. Some guys come with mental baggage or scar tissue. He doesn’t have any of that.” Reid says Mahomes is guided by a simple philosophy: Nothing’s impossible until we make it impossible. “Pat thinks that way. He likes that. He wants to be challenged with those new things. Anything’s possible—let’s go try it.”
In the four full years he’s dedicated to football, Mahomes has not been told, nor has he discovered, where the limits lie—so he’s going to keep trying to find them. That’s scary news for defenses all over the league: Mahomes is just getting started. “I’m nowhere near where I can be,” he says.
On a morning in late May, it’s sunny in Kansas City. Eighty-five degrees. Mahomes is in his backyard, working on his short game. He’s got on a blue tee, and he’s wearing white socks with white Gucci slides. He installed a putting green out here last fall, but given Kansas City’s cold winters, there has been limited time to use it. There are no water hazards or sand traps, but there are other obstacles, and Mahomes, as ever, is highly attuned to them.
A baby bird has fallen out of a nearby nest, and he’s on high alert for a pissed-off mother. There are some bees. And somebody keeps driving by, somebody who may or may not be taking pictures, a common enough occurrence that he and Brittany are planning to plant some trees out front for privacy. Despite all that, Mahomes is chipping from various spots around his property.
He used to play golf casually with his dad when he was growing up, and he’d occasionally hit balls in college. But he truly got back into it when he entered the NFL and found himself with more free time. After three years of getting serious, he’s shooting in the high 70s and low 80s but is still working on reining in certain impulses.“When I first started picking up golf, I was not consistent at all but could hit some crazy shots because I would just always go for it, no matter what,” says Mahomes, forever unafraid to push the boundaries. “I would always go for the 240-yard shot, around the trees, onto the green that’s an island. As I’ve figured out the golf game, I’ve learned when to lay up just a little bit.”
Before COVID-19 sent him back to Dallas, on his last day pre-isolation, Mahomes was in California playing a different backyard course: the notorious par 3 that CBS Sports broadcaster Jim Nantz built behind his house. Earlier in the day, Nantz accompanied Mahomes for most of the 36 holes he’d played on the wave-licked bluffs of California’s Monterey Peninsula: 18 at Cypress Point in the morning (where he shot an 81), another 18 at nearby Pebble Beach (where he put up an 83). When Nantz invited Mahomes to swing by for some shots on his half-size replica of Pebble Beach’s seventh hole, the young QB jumped at the chance. He was eager to earn a place on Nantz’s “Rock of Fame,” which sits near the tee box and lists all those who’ve successfully nailed a hole in one.
It had been a nasty, rainy day, and it was already getting dark by the time Mahomes started teeing off, so Nantz remembers having to turn on the stadium lights he keeps back there. Though Mahomes nearly aced his first shot—it lipped out on the opposite side of the hole—he says he was nowhere close after that. Even still, he must have taken 40 or so swings, not willing to give up. Nantz told me that he remembers Mahomes being “fired up.”“His whole countenance changed once he stepped foot on that tee,” Nantz said, his famously buttery voice lending drama to the recollection. “He was sociable. He was who he is. He’s just a great guy, convivial and all that, but I also saw him go to a place that I’ve recognized looking into the helmet a few times. ‘I’m here to do something. I’m here to pull something off. I’m here to make history.’ ”
After a while, it was getting late. Mahomes and Brittany were scheduled to catch a plane back to Dallas the following morning and worried that, with the coronavirus starting to spool out across the country, missing their flight could spell big trouble. It was hard to pull him away, but Brittany eventually succeeded. “I’m going to be back,” he told Nantz on the way out, vowing to hit a hole in one.
And why wouldn’t he think that? He was a baseball player with pro ambitions who decided to become a professional football player. In his first season starting, he didn’t win the Super Bowl (just the league MVP), so he kept plugging away, practicing, putting in reps, and then, the following year—boom!—wouldn’t you know it, a Super Bowl. For Patrick Mahomes, the question is not so much “Can I do it?” but “How many times will it take before I do?” Nothing’s impossible until we make it impossible.
To a guy who has yet to run up against any sort of limitation, everything has a way of seeming possible. Probable, even.
So I ask Mahomes if he thinks he’ll get back to Nantz’s yard to keep his promise. Of course, he tells me. It’s simple: “I’ve already been close enough—and I didn’t have that much time.