Patrick Mahomes will poke a little fun at Tom Brady.
He quipped after winning the AFC Championship game about facing Brady in “his 150th Super Bowl.” He joked last week how it seemed the whole 25-some years he’s been alive that Brady had been known for playing football well — which wasn’t far off given Brady was a college freshman in September 1995.
But the respect and reverence Mahomes has for Brady — even though the Chiefs and Bucs quarterbacks’ teams will be battling in Sunday’s Super Bowl — is quite serious.
“If you’re a young athlete, and you’re playing any sport, and you don’t look up to guys like Tom Brady, you’re crazy,” Mahomes said Monday on a media Zoom call. “The guy that’s had success year in and year out, continues to make himself better and not be satisfied with where he’s at. He’s the type of greatness that you strive to be, to be like and to be towards as you grow up.
“I grew up watching him play, and he’s still here playing, and he’s still at the top of the game. So for me, I need to watch him and watch the things that he does on and off the field in order to figure out the best way to make me the best player possible.”
Obviously, Mahomes is pretty good already, having led the Chiefs to one AFC Championship Game (a loss to Brady’s Patriots), a Super Bowl championship and now a chance to repeat in his first three seasons as a starter.
One of the leading narratives this week is how Mahomes is positioning himself to potentially challenge Brady’s standing as the greatest of all time, with nine previous Super Bowl appearances and six championships to prove it.
“It’s obviously really exciting to hear, but you understand that you’re really far away,” Mahomes said. “There’s so much stuff that can happen in this league and this game that all I can focus on is trying to do whatever I can to win the next game that I’m playing.
“So it’s going to be a great opportunity for me to get to play against Tom, an all-time great, the GOAT, everything like that. But at the end of the day, all I can do is prepare myself to play the best football I can every single day I get the opportunity to.”
Mahomes’ ability to throw on the run, to turn seemingly broken plays into big gains, is a skill that sets him apart from Brady and most other quarterbacks. It’s a product of Mahomes’ remarkable athleticism, a gift, in part, from his father, Pat, who pitched parts of 11 seasons in the majors.
But there are things Brady, who plays more of a traditional quarterback style, does that makes Mahomes envious.
“There’s a ton,” Mahomes said. “The way he’s able to dissect defenses before the snap is something that I truly admire, that I’m trying to get to that level. The way he’s able to move within the pocket and be able to reset his feet and be completely calm and still make the throw right on the money, no matter who’s around him, is something that I have to continue to work on.
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“And as I continue in my career, I’m going to still try to do whatever I can to watch the tape on him because he’s doing it the right way. And you can tell by how many Super Bowl championships he has and the rings that are on his fingers.”
The two have talked, most famously when Brady came over to the Chiefs’ lockerroom to offer some words of encouragement after that 2019 AFC title game, which Mahomes greatly appreciated.
Mahomes said one thing they definitely have in common is their focus on winning.
“I think the biggest thing is the competitive drive,” Mahomes said. “He’s the same way as I am — he’s going to leave everything he has on the field every single time he’s out there to win. And he doesn’t care what it takes. He doesn’t care if he has to throw for 400 yards or he has to throw for 100 yards; he wants to win. And I feel like I have that same mentality; I just want to win no matter what, no matter what happens, and how it happens.”
With Brady, 43, signed for just one more year, and another regular-season meeting unlikely anytime soon under the NFL scheduling format, Sunday seemingly could be the last time they face off. In the first four meetings, they’ve each won two.
Mahomes said there is plenty of motivation, including the chance to be the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champs since Brady’s Patriots won the 2004-05 games (beating an Eagles team led by current Chiefs coach Andy Reid).
“If you’re not fired up to play in the Super Bowl then I don’t know what else can make you get any more fired up,” Mahomes said. “I mean, to be able to play in the Super Bowl and try to repeat is enough in its own.
“They said that the last game that we played (in November in Tampa) was going to be the last time that we played. So I’m sure he’ll have something to say about that, trying to make (more) Super Bowls. And I’ll be trying to make more, too.”
And that’s no joke.
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