Super Bowl could turn into the Mahomes show

by Gary Shelton on January 31, 2020

in general

Friday, 4 a.m.

He is on the front porch of history. From here, all he has to do is enter the room.

He is Patrick Mahomes, and he is 24, and he could be voted mayor of Kansas City any time he wants to run. He has won 23 of 30 regular season games, and he has delivered back-to-back comebacks in the playoffs. One more game, and he is immortal.


And now he is hours away from his first Super Bowl, and already, he is the finest young quarterback in the sport. This is his time. This is his opportunity.

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Oh, to a lesser degree, you could suggest the same about 49ers' quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. But Garoppolo has spent the post-season doing a Bob Griese impersonation, handing the ball off and throwing just enough to remind opponents it's still legal. He hasn't been the force -- at least, not so far -- that Mahomes has been.

Think of it like this: Joe Namath won a Super Bowl...but he only did it once. Johnny Unitas won once. So did Russell Wilson, and Brett Favre, and Doug Williams. So did Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers and Len Dawson. Steve Young won it as many times as Trent Dilfer. Ken Stabler won it as many times as Jeff Hostetler.

So yeah, one would be a pretty fair start for a young quarterback.

If you're going by Super Bowls, most quarterbacks win it only once. Eight have won it twice, and four have won it more (Tom Brady's six leads Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw by two).

Face it, America is always looking for a new star. It could well be Mahomes, a likable young man with a champion's smile. So far in the playoffs, Mahomes has ratings of 134.6 against Houston and 120.4 against Tennessee.

How does that compare? Phil Sims once had a rating of 150.6 against Denver, the best of any Super Bowl winning quarterback. Only eight quarterbacks (two of them Montana) had a rating of more than 125.0 in the Super Bowl.

But here's the thing about Mahomes. His greatest gift, the thing that separates him from most quarterbacks, especially the young ones, is that he's so much more than statistics.

Deion Sanders called it the "it" factor. And Mahomes is flush with it. There is a quality to him that you cannot wait to see him, and you cannot wait for the next play.

Namath had the it factor, even though mostly what he did in Super Bowl III was make a promise. He didn't particularly play well. When Tom Brady went to his first Super Bowl (also at 24), he was supposedly a stand-in for Drew Bledsoe. When Joe Montana went to his first Super Bowl (at 25), he had had a rating of just 99.1 that season. Peyton Manning was 30, and he had struggled to get to the Super Bowl, but he certainly had the it factor.

Who else has had it. Dan Marino, who lost his only Super Bowl, had it. Terry Bradshaw had a slice of it, but he played on a team with perhaps the best defense in history. Jim Kelly seemed to have it, but four Super Bowl losses drained it from him.

Hey, Mahomes may not win Sunday. He faces a very, very good defense in the 49ers. If Mahomes is ordinary, maybe even a tad better, he could come out as a loser. Nothing memorable about that.

But if he can ride the serpent, then Mahomes can win more than a Super Bowl on Sunday.

He can win a claim on greatness.

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