LAS VEGAS — Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes had a media crowd around his podium Monday night that never seemed to be less than seven deep, with everyone hurling questions at him from serious to silly.
Nothing seemed to faze him. That’s what happens when you’ve done Super Bowl Opening Night four times in five years.
He smiled and laughed, even when asked about the viral picture of him shirtless in the locker room and not looking like Mr. Universe.
“I have a six-pack, it’s just under the dad bod,” Mahomes said. “You just got to get real close, you’ve got to squint a little bit and you’ll see it.”
The media learned Mahomes, a proud Texan, prefers Whataburger to In-N-Out for the choices across the menu (“The Texas toast chicken strip sandwich? What are we even talking about?”), he still might lobby Andy Reid to let him play some celebrity basketball (“If I played basketball, I’d be just like Steph Curry. I’ve got the shot,” he joked) and he seemed to like the choice of Usher as the headline act (“I’m a big ‘Confessions,’ guy.”).
But Mahomes is also here for business. The business for him is collecting rings. Every one gets him closer to a claim as the greatest player in NFL history. The player with the unquestioned greatest résumé is Tom Brady and his record seven championship rings. Mahomes is on a fast track to greatness, although the pursuit of Brady still seems daunting.
“I’m not even close to halfway,” Mahomes said. “The goal is to be the best player you can be. I’ve been blessed to have a lot of great players around me, and right now it’s doing whatever I can to beat a great 49ers team and try to get that third ring.
“You ask me that question in like 15 years and I’ll see if I can get close to seven. Seven seems like a long ways away still.”
But having the conversation with a straight face about a 28-year-old quarterback says a lot about where Mahomes already stands.
Patrick Mahomes has ‘surreal’ start to career
Mahomes has been the Chiefs quarterback for six seasons. The first five seasons, he had two Super Bowl wins, one Super Bowl loss and two losses in AFC championship games. He has a chance to finish his sixth season as a starter with his third ring.
Even Mahomes didn’t see that coming.
“I always hoped. But I don’t think I could have ever foreseen what has happened at the start of my career,” Mahomes said. “Obviously you want to get to the Super Bowl. That’s your ultimate goal. To be in my fourth one, it truly is surreal. I try to appreciate it every single time, because you don’t know if this will be your last.”
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Mahomes is right that you never know if it will be your last Super Bowl — Dan Marino, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers all had a Super Bowl trip or title early in their careers and surprisingly never made it back for more than a decade after — but it seems like Mahomes will be back.
At 28, he could end up playing for another decade or more. He doesn’t have any plans on an early retirement.
“I want to play as long as they’ll let me play,” Mahomes said. “Fifteen years is long, but Brady did and some other guys have done it so I’m going to try to see if I can do it as well.”
Then it’s just about taking advantage of every opportunity he has, like Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. Every loss this deep in the playoffs makes it harder to challenge Brady’s record.
“I think what I’ve always said drives me my entire career is I don’t want to have any regret,” Mahomes said. “I understand how lucky I am, to be drafted to Kansas City, I have Andy Reid as my coach and Travis Kelce as my tight end. I got drafted here and ended up with all the guys.
“I don’t want to look back at my career and regret how I performed every single day and that’s working out, that’s watching film, whatever it is. If I give everything I have, I can be satisfied with the result.”
Mahomes impresses everyone
Even Mahomes’ teammates can’t help but be impressed.
Chiefs safety Justin Reid talked about how good Mahomes is diagnosing a defense before the snap. And how good Mahomes is adjusting after the snap when defenses try to trick him.
“Also, when things break down, he’s just a gamer,” Reid said. “You put the ball in his hands, he wants those big moments. He wants the pressure.”
Reid has played six seasons, and he said Mahomes is the best quarterback he has seen.
“Oh, absolutely. Absolutely,” Reid said. “He has all the tools. He’s going up against the greats, Steve Young, Tom Brady, but the sky is the limit for him. If the guy keeps playing like he’s playing, man, I can’t wait to see how the rest of his career plays out.”
A big part of that story will come Sunday. Another win puts Mahomes in a rare class of three-time Super Bowl winners. He’s not guaranteed to keep winning like this, even at age 28, but he has a chance.
Mahomes had fun Monday night, but he talked about how even in Las Vegas, it was a business trip for him and the Chiefs. There will hopefully be time to enjoy the city later.
“I told everybody if we win the Super Bowl, I’ll bring everyone back to Vegas in a couple weeks and we’ll celebrate then,” Mahomes said.