Not since traveling to Denver in 2014 to face Peyton Manning has Tom Brady encountered a quarterback in an AFC Championship game as statistically accomplished as Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs’ first-year starter skipped the growing pains many predicted, throwing 50 touchdowns and totaling more than 5,000 yards passing.
Mahomes, only 23, was born a few weeks after Brady began his freshman fall semester at Michigan. Despite the obvious age difference, each is among the NFL’s elite at their position. Before Sunday’s clash, here’s a little more about the player the Patriots will have to stop (or at least slow down) in order to reach another Super Bowl.
Pat Mahomes was once a Red Sox reliever
While it’s widely known that Kansas City’s quarterback is the son of former major leaguer Pat Mahomes — Patrick goes by his full name to differentiate — fans might not remember that the retired pitcher plied his trade for the Red Sox for a time.
Traded to Boston in a waiver-wire deal in August 1996, Pat struggled through 22.1 innings as a reliever here, first demoted to Pawtucket in May 1997, then sold to the Yokohama BayStars of the Japanese professional league in June. His 6.85 ERA slightly belied a 3-0 record.
In his final relief appearance for the Red Sox (and last MLB appearance for more than two years), Mahomes gave up back-to-back home runs to Roberto Alomar and Eric Davis of the Baltimore Orioles. His final batter faced with Boston came later in the inning, when he walked Cal Ripken and was pulled.
Kliff Kingsbury was his college coach
Mahomes absolutely tore up college football, throwing for more than 11,000 yards in 32 games at Texas Tech. The talented quarterback was coached by Kliff Kingsbury, who was recently fired by the Red Raiders and quickly hired by the Arizona Cardinals.
Kingsbury set 39 school records as the quarterback at Texas Tech, then was drafted by the Patriots in the 6th round (201st pick) of the 2003 draft. (Not all that unlike Brady, who was taken No. 199 in 2000.) Kingsbury lasted for a season before being released in September 2004, eventually throwing his only three NFL passes with the Jets in 2005.
“I’m close to Coach Kingsbury,” said Mahomes after Kingsbury was let go by Texas Tech in November. “He really helped my game and helped me as a person a lot. He’s a genuine good person and at the same time a very smart football coach.”
Mahomes and Baker Mayfield were once part of a record-setting college game
On Oct. 22, 2016, Texas Tech and Oklahoma set a standard in high-scoring games. Mahomes’s Red Raiders scored 59, but it somehow wasn’t enough to overcome Baker Mayfield and the Sooners, who scored 66. Mayfield, drafted first overall a year after Mahomes went No. 10, passed for seven touchdowns.
Mahomes still set a series of records, including smashing the previous record of most individual yards in a game, compiling 819. He also tied Connor Halliday’s record for most passing yards in a Division 1/FBS game with 734.
Andy Reid narrowly beat Sean Payton to Mahomes in the 2017 draft
An interesting historical “what if” to consider.
Mahomes was tracked before the 2017 draft by Chiefs scout Brett Veach, who also helped the Eagles draft DeSean Jackson, Fletcher Cox and LeSean McCoy when Veach and Chiefs coach Andy Reid were still in Philadelphia. Veach eventually impressed upon Reid just how much potential Mahomes had.
To ensure that they got Mahomes, the Chiefs traded their 2017 first-round pick (27th overall), a 2017 third-round pick, and a 2018 first-round pick to the Bills on the day of the first round to secure the 10th overall pick.
Normally, it would be almost impossible to suppose where Mahomes would’ve ended up had Kansas City not selected him. However, Saints coach Sean Payton told Dan Patrick almost a year later that if the Chiefs hadn’t taken Mahomes with the 10th pick, the Saints would’ve selected him at 11.
Mahomes was a high school competitor of a notable former Red Sox prospect
Mahomes went to Whitehouse High School in Texas. He frequently came up against another talented high schooler during baseball season, Michael Kopech. Red Sox fans will remember the flame-throwing right-hander, Boston’s first-round pick in 2014. He would later become a centerpiece of the Chris Sale trade with the White Sox.
As high schoolers, Mahomes out-dueled Kopech in a game in March 2014. The future quarterback threw a no-hitter, striking out 16 and going 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run. Whitehouse won, 10-3.
The two athletes appear to be friends, as Kopech praised Mahomes’ baseball talent in an article for the Kansas City Star in 2017. And in 2018, they traded Twitter banter when Mahomes threw out the first pitch at a Royals game.
I got the 🔥 never was good on throwing the strikes lol https://t.co/3OsF8Ul9l6
— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes5) May 18, 2018