Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes are from different generations, football-wise, but their careers are now intertwined.
Two seasons ago, the Kansas City Chiefs took on the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game. Mahomes was the precocious MVP. Brady was after his ninth Super Bowl appearance.
They played an epic. Brady led a touchdown drive in overtime of a thrilling game, and the Patriots won 37-31. New England went on to win the Super Bowl two weeks later, the last playoff game Brady and Bill Belichick would win together.
Mahomes and Brady meet again Sunday as Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face Mahomes’ Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. The result could go a long way in shaping the legacy for each player for years to come.
If not for that AFC title game loss, and Brady’s words of encouragement to Mahomes afterward, perhaps the Chiefs wouldn’t be in the middle of a budding dynasty.
Patrick Mahomes’ lesson from Tom Brady
After the Patriots beat the Chiefs for the AFC title, Brady took the unusual step of going to the Chiefs’ locker room to talk to Mahomes.
Like Brady’s now famous postgame chat with Drew Brees after the Buccaneers beat the Saints in the playoffs this season, it was a meeting between two superstar quarterbacks who have a shared experience few can relate to. The conversation in the Chiefs locker room two years ago was a living legend letting the next generation’s star know he respected him from afar.
“It was affirmation of what I’d been doing the whole year, that I was doing it the right way,” Mahomes said Monday. “As a young quarterback you don’t understand that. You try to put in as much time and work as possible and try to win as many games as possible, and for him to come talk to me and show me that respect, from Tom, it meant I was doing it the right way. Obviously I have a ton of respect for him and everything he has done.”
There’s a mutual respect. Mahomes is physically one of the most impressive quarterbacks in NFL history, but Brady kept bringing up Mahomes’ leadership and his play in the clutch.
“I really admire him,” Brady said Monday. “I think he’s a tremendous player, great leader, big-time performer, always seems to play the best when his team needs it the most. Just incredibly impressed by him.”
Whether or not Brady’s words after that AFC championship game had something to do with Mahomes’ continued rise, Brady can recognize Mahomes is on a rare trajectory.
“I think he’s only elevated from that point on,” Brady said.
Chiefs have won 2 straight AFC titles
The Chiefs are on a rare path too. No team has ever won three Super Bowls in a row, but it seems like a possibility for Kansas City. It won last season and could go back-to-back. Brady and the Buccaneers are trying to stop that.
Like Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, who had to lose multiple times in the playoffs before forging a dynasty, the loss to the Patriots two years ago gave the Chiefs an invaluable lesson.
“You get in those big games and you learn from them,” Mahomes said. “How to start better, how to battle through adversity. With that first year, how hot we played and how we were able to jump on the scene and have a lot of success, we didn’t have those adverse moments of building a team and how to get through those together. Losing in that AFC championship game, we learned a ton in that game of how we have to improve ourselves so we can find a way to get to a Super Bowl.”
Mahomes spoke highly of Brady. He said he tries to emulate his work ethic. He specifically said he sees Brady’s mastery of dissecting a defense before the snap and wants to improve at that part of his game. The conversation that Mahomes could someday pass Brady’s accomplishments has already started. If Mahomes can come close, he will owe a bit of that success to Brady.
“If you’re a young athlete and you play any sport and you don’t look up to a guy like Tom Brady, then you’re crazy,” Mahomes said. “A guy that has had success year in and year out and continues to make himself better and not be satisfied where he’s at. He’s the type of greatness you strive to be like.”
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