In Monday’s edition of his “Football Morning in America” column, NBC Sports’ Peter King named the NFL’s most influential people for the 2022 season. His list of 22 began with commissioner Roger Goodell — and included 11 other individuals who are not players or coaches. But eight quarterbacks made the list — including Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Partick Mahomes, who was ranked fourth behind the Cleveland Browns’ Deshaun Watson and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady.
Surprised he’s this high, on a franchise that could have a different look without Tyreek Hill this year? Don’t be. Mahomes, in many ways, is the face of the NFL, the cool guy and electric player. My proof: Who did Amazon want for its historic debut game? Mahomes and Kansas City. What’s the Sunday night gem of the first month of NBC’s season? Mahomes at Tom Brady in Week 4. Starting in Week 1, 11 of KC’s first 13 games will be nationally televised: three on Sunday night, one on Thursday night, one on Monday night, and in late-window Sunday doubleheader games, four on CBS and two on FOX.
Obviously, even without Tyreek Hill, the NFL thinks: In Patrick We Trust. It’s a wise motto. The reports of Kansas City’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, and will be as long as Mahomes plays quarterback there. In many ways, this is a shrewd list. King named several behind-the-scenes individuals (whose names you’ve likely never heard) that he believes will have a significant impact on how the game is played, watched and perceived. Here’s how he explained it.
I tried to mix the business of the sport with the sport of the sport. They’re all in here: eight from the playing field (and a ninth player for a specific reason as the bonus person) six from the league office, two coaches, a media guru, a media kingmaker, four owners (one new, one reviled, two mega-men), 20 men, two women. There are surprises at numbers six and 10, but not surprises to me.
It might stick in your craw that Brady is ranked above Mahomes — but here’s part of how King makes his case.
• FOX will pay him $375 million for 10 years as a broadcaster and ambassador when he retires, per Andrew Marchand. Including this season, per Over The Cap, Brady’s total football earnings will be $317 million in 23 seasons. Life is weird.
• The NFL chose the Bucs to play the first league game ever in Germany this year, leading one NFL wag to tell me: “Brady in Germany will be like the Beatles coming to New York City.” An exaggeration of that half-century-old event, but I do expect some mayhem in Munich when Brady and the Bucs play Seattle on Nov. 13.
• When Brady retired last winter, the Bucs were the 15th-most-likely team to win the Super Bowl, per Vegas odds. When he un-retired, the Bucs moved to second.
It’s possible to argue that Brady’s influence is based on what he’s done, rather than on what he will do in the seasons to come. But King is right about one thing: the Kansas City quarterback remains one of the league’s top draws. That’s likely to be the case for many years to come.