The incredible football career of Patrick Mahomes is winding down. But he still has his eyes on one more ring this season with the Kansas City Chiefs.
What are we if not warriors fighting against time, against our own mortality?
Patrick Mahomes knows this fight well. Football, and time, waits for no man.
At 35 years old, Mahomes is battling for one more chance to win it all. One more chance to claim what once was obvious: he's the best there is.
Simultaneously, it seems both yesterday and a lifetime ago Mahomes was at the pinnacle of his profession. The Kansas City Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in 50 years, with Mahomes leading the charge in three consecutive comeback wins that postseason. Mahomes was the Super Bowl MVP, one year removed from being the league MVP.
He was 24 years old, and soon to be given a 12-year, $500 million contract extension. Mahomes owned the NFL. He owned the world.
Now, a decade later, Mahomes is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Three MVP awards, a two-time Super Bowl champion, on his way to shattering myriad meaningful passing records. His place is secure, but his moment is tenuous.
After winning two straight Super Bowls, Mahomes hasn't gotten back. The Chiefs went through a few relatively lean years as Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill declined, and Andy Reid retired. The supporting cast fell off. The draft classes were good, but not fantastic. Factor in two years of Mahomes battling through nagging injuries, and nothing has come easy in recent times.
In Kansas City, success is measured in titles and not playoff appearances, and so the past nine seasons have brought heartache and angst. Now, with the best team around him since the halcyon days of Reid, Kelce and Hill, the Chiefs and Mahomes have an opportunity.
For Mahomes, a third title would vault him into another historical stratosphere. No, it's not Tom Brady's six or Joe Montana's four, but it's more than Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre, Steve Young or Roger Staubach ever won. And, factoring in Mahomes' numbers against Brady's and Montana's -- even adjusting for the era -- there's a strong case that a third title puts him at the top of almost every list.
And yet without a third championship, Mahomes' career somehow feels as though it's longing for closure. The two titles were enormous for both city and legacy, but they came so early. It's the equivalent to a great movie, but one with a spellbinding beginning only to taper before a middling conclusion.
With a Super Bowl, Mahomes puts the ultimate exclamation on his career, even with a few years likely remaining in his golden right arm.
The Chiefs are undefeated and looking better than ever. Kansas City has rediscovered its defense behind veteran safety Juan Thornhill and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. Offensively, Mahomes is the main cog, but is surrounded by a young, gelling offensive line and a hoard of youngsters, including first-round receiver Jonathan Abushi.
Ultimately, Mahomes still has the magic, even as the hair begins to thin. His voice, gravelly as always, still barks out signals with the same authoritativeness. In short, Mahomes is the same man he's always been, searching for one more crown before the head under it can rest.
The only difference now, is that at 35 years old, he's running out of time.