Mark Kiszla: Why Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is best of all time (2024)

LAS VEGAS • With the eyes of LeBron James, Joe Montana and Taylor Swift on him at the Super Bowl, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes stood tall on the football’s biggest stage, showed out and proved he's the GOAT.

“It’s legendary,” Mahomes declared Sunday night, after he led the Chiefs back from the brink to a 25-22 overtime victory against San Francisco and made Kansas City the first back-to-back NFL champion in two decades.

From Johnny Unitas to Tom Brady, nobody has ever done it better than Mahomes. In his prime and just getting warmed up at age 28, Mahomes has already staked a serious claim as the greatest of all time. He's the creator of a dynasty in Broncos Country’s backyard, with Kansas City atop the NFL world for the third time in the past five seasons.

“Viva, Las Vegas!” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce screamed as he hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy and claimed his next goal was an unprecedented three-peat.

Kelce sealed the victory with an on-field kiss of Swift. They are not only the NFL’s power couple, but so popular that their blessings are being shamelessly courted by presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

If watching Kelce get the trophy and the girl wasn’t bad enough for Broncos die-hards, there was even greater heartbreak for two of Denver’s favorite football sons, San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan and running back Christian McCaffrey, born with the orange-and-blue pride coursing through their veins.

“It hurts,” said Shanahan, now 0-3 in the Super Bowl as a coach, losing once to Brady and twice to Mahomes.

The Niners led this game 10-0 early and were ahead by three points late in the fourth quarter, after Jake Moody drilled a 53-yard field goal with one minute, 53 seconds remaining in regulation time. San Francisco won the toss and took football to start overtime, then on the strength of 26 yards rushing and 28 yards receiving by McCaffrey, did everything that Shanahan could’ve wanted on the opening drive of the extra period except find the end zone.

The Niners got no satisfaction by converting a short field goal in the red zone to take a 22-19 lead. Instead, there was a sense of dread, because Mahomes was buckling up his chin strap to take the Chiefs on a winning drive that felt as inevitable as death and taxes.

It had to be excruciating for a proud father to watch his son lose in such painful fashion.

“As a father,” former Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey told me prior to kickoff, “you feel the same way when Christian was 7 years old, playing in his peewee Super Bowl … It’s your son. And every parent feels the same. You want your child to be happy. In this world of football, it’s devastating when you lose.”

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Before Usher took the stage at halftime to woo fans in Allegiant Stadium, Kansas City scored only three points. Through two quarters, the only memorable moment for Chiefs Kingdom happened midway through the second quarter, when pop superstar Swift was caught on the jumbotron, chugging a drink and slamming her cup like a rock star on a table in a luxury suite.

After bringing down the house like Godzilla during concerts in Japan, Swift hopped on a plane in Tokyo and flew 5,984 miles to Vegas. With the Kansas City offense sputtering, I wondered: She traveled all that way for this? For much of the night, the only real impact her boyfriend, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce made on the game was when he lost his composure and recklessly shoved 65-year-old coach Andy Reid on the sideline.

"I was off-balance. Wasn't watching. A cheap shot, that's right," chuckled Reid, adding that the edited meaning of Kelce's profane message was: "Put me in and I'll score."

Let this be a lesson to all of us: If you don’t drive a stake through the heart of a champion, it’s nearly impossible to kill that unwavering will to win. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that I’ve now gone through to win three times,” Kelce said. “It gets weirder and weirder every time.”

And when the Chiefs trail on the scoreboard, even by double digits, don’t tell Mahomes the odds. Just give him the dadgum ball, stand back and watch him do magic. In no small part because Kansas City frequently had difficulty scoring points this season, including a 24-9 loss to Denver in October, they were established as 1.5 points underdogs to San Francisco.

Not once, but twice, however, Mahomes led scoring drives with the Chiefs down to their last gasp. “The guy’s got magic in his right arm,” Kelce said.

Nobody but Mahomes could’ve done this: He led Kansas City 64 yards to set up a 29-yard field goal by Harrison Butker with three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Then, railing again by three points in overtime, Mahomes calmly and methodically led the Chiefs to the winning touchdown, with a three-yard pass to a wide-open Mecole Hardman for the touchdown that started the party in a city built for excessive celebration.

“The Kansas City Chiefs are never underdogs,” Mahomes said on the field, during an interview with CBS. “Know that.”

And know what else? Read it and weep, Broncos Country:

Kansas City will remain a real, legitimate threat to win the Super Bowl from now until Mahomes retires, because he is better than John Elway and Peyton Manning ever were.

The GOAT wears No. 15 in red, but he's No. 1 in NFL history.

Mark Kiszla: Why Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is best of all time (2024)
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