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New Kid in Town
ALL OVER AMERICA, football fans tuned in to get a glimpse of the new quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs. It was October 1, 2018, week four of the still young NFL season.
They’d heard about the stats—a league-leading thirteen touchdowns in his first three games. They’d seen the highlights—daring passes from an unbelievably strong arm and slalom-like runs through defenders. They’d heard the testimonials about his potential—“the sky’s the limit for this kid,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who doesn’t normally praise his players, said after a six-touchdown game in week two.
Now here was a chance to see Patrick Mahomes live on Monday Night Football and judge if he was indeed the potential next big star of the National Football League, or if he was just a flash in the pan whose brief run of greatness would quickly end.
In front of a packed and loud stadium in Denver, Colorado, Patrick put up a solid performance for most of the game. He wasn’t great, though. There was no evidence to suggest that he should be crowned king of the NFL or a future Hall of Famer.
He’d thrown for 235 yards and one touchdown. He’d run for another. Respectable, but not special. And as a result, the Chiefs were trailing the Denver Broncos, 23–20 with 4:35 remaining in the game. Kansas City had the ball on their own forty-yard line with the game still in their reach.
Patrick had no time to wait if he was going to lead the Chiefs to victory and make a statement that at just twenty-three years old and in just his first year as the full-time starter, he was a force to be reckoned with.
“Well, these are the moments that can make a guy,” the ESPN broadcaster said as Patrick and the offense took the field looking for a game-winning drive. “The moment has arrived for Patrick Mahomes.”
It was a moment Patrick had been building toward his entire life.
From as early as he could remember, he didn’t just want to be a professional athlete, he expected to be one. He’d grown up around pro athletes, after all. His father, Pat Mahomes Sr., was a longtime pitcher in the major leagues. Patrick would spend summers trailing his dad around, including hanging out on the field before games for batting practice or to shag fly balls.
At first, team officials tried to stop him, assuming a kid that young might get hurt out on the field. Then they saw him chase down a fly or catch a hard ground ball and became so amazed at his skill and courage at such a young age that he earned his place.
Sports quickly became the center of Patrick’s universe. There were the baseball games his dad played. Then there were the ones he played—baseball, for sure, but also basketball and football and golf and track and anything else he could compete in. No matter the activity, Patrick almost immediately showed himself to be the most talented among his friends.
“He was a natural,” said one of his high school coaches, Adam Cook. “You give him a little while to figure out how a game is played, and he’d beat you at it. Just a natural athlete.”
To Patrick, becoming a pro made sense. Why stop playing games once you got older if you didn’t need to stop? He didn’t even care which sport he played professionally. He just wanted to keep competing and having fun.
As a kid, Patrick assumed he’d be a pitcher. By high school he could fire fastballs in the mid-90s. He could also crack home runs seemingly at will. But it wasn’t his only passion.
Text copyright © 2020 by Dan Wetzel