SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Patrick Mahomes became an NFL superstar almost from the moment he became the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018, the year he also won his first MVP trophy.
His arm talent was always obvious, his Frohawk and voice always distinctive, and the endless stream of captivating highlights – from left-handed passes, no-look passes, over-the-shoulder passes that almost no other passer would dare attempt in a game.
And then there’s that mountain of passing records and other positive results: a Pro Bowler in all of his five years as a starter; two-time (breakout) MVP, including the 2022 season; Super Bowl 54 MVP; and now set to kick off on Super Sunday for the third time in four seasons, as KC takes on the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 57 today.
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But what we all see isn’t necessarily what Mahomes’ teammates see.
USA TODAY Sports closely monitored and asked Chiefs players and coaches during the days leading up to the big game about what it’s like to be around their intrepid leader, and some common themes quickly emerged.
Here’s what they had to say about #15:
All-Pro TE Travis Kelce
“His talent level goes way beyond his ability to just go out there. He’s playing one step ahead, he’s almost playing chess in terms of already having three or four moves in his pocket, depending on what the defense does. That’s what’s going to make him the greatest ever. And I love playing with him, and he’s always trying to find ways to make himself better for this team. And you’ve seen that more this year than any other year. that we played knowing the pieces were a little different in terms of the weapons he has and the scrutiny that everyone was looking at to see how he was going to take his game to the next level.
“Pat doesn’t walk into that building thinking, ‘I need to be the MVP.’ He goes into that building trying to find the best way to beat the opponent we have that week. And he just goes out there and plays the style of football that he does. He has fun doing it with the guys he has around him, and we rallied around it. We came together around that excitement, that will and that desire to win with the guys by our side, man. This makes entering the building much more fun.
Second-row QB Chad Henne
“He’s just a humble person, put his ego aside. Obviously he’s got this big personality about him, a world figure. But he’s a chill guy. He’s like a normal guy, ‘Let’s go out and have a beer.’ And it’s really fun to be around him.”
Third-string QB Shane Buechele
“The ultimate competitor. … Whether it’s football, basketball, table tennis – he’s doing it all. He wants to win and he does it at any cost.
“He’s a team first and foremost guy. I think it’s easy in his position – the best player in the league – to put himself on a pedestal, but he does everything right. … He always puts his team first. .”
Coach Andy Reid
“He works really hard, as you know, in his profession. He works hard to be the best. He tries to help our team be the best. He says it every day when he comes into practice, in the huddle: ‘We’re going to be great today.’ And he lives it. Hats off to him for that, I’m very proud of him for the way he conducts his business.”
RB Jerick McKinnon
“Just a great person – great friend, great leader. He’s got personality – that’s the most important thing, it’s hard to be around people who don’t have personality. But he definitely has a great personality.”
TE Noah Gray
“He’s a tremendous guy, very generous. A guy who loves God. I couldn’t be more grateful for Pat and his leadership and the confidence he brings to the locker room. So grateful for him and how he helped me and other guys make the transition to this team and the NFL. Just a guy that stands out.”
Matt Nagy Quarterbacks Coach
“Very, very down to earth. Very, very humble. He is himself, which I love. A lot of guys – if you have a lot of success and fame, I mean, he’s iconic, right? He has the ability to be very different and kind of shuts himself off and doesn’t want to be bothered – he couldn’t be more opposite, and I think that’s why his teammates and coaches love him so much. He’s just himself. He lets his guard down. He has phenomenal awareness with building relationships with different players on the team…. He also doesn’t put himself above anyone. He is the first to criticize himself, he doesn’t point the finger at anyone, but he points the thumb at himself. I think when you does that, people just want to do everything for him.”
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G Trey Smith
“Everything you see is real. He’s a great guy off the pitch, he’s solid. He always treats you with the utmost respect. He’s a great friend. At the end of the day, he’s a good human being and a great leader. What you see off the pitch and on the pitch is pretty consistent. He’s a good person, that’s what matters.”
“He’s the same guy when I got here in 2018, he just loves his teammates. … Has all this (attention) come to a point where he’s a celebrity? And I would say absolutely not, and that’s probably one one of my favorite things about him Great guy, just wants to be a ball player and hang out with his teammates.
K Harrison Butker
“He’s a kid at heart it seems – not in a bad, immature way. But he’s very free and loves to have fun. It feels like he’s just in someone’s backyard playing football, and I think that’s a credit to whoever he is. but also Coach Reid is not trying to change him, just letting his personality show. And Pat is a leader at heart, a great leader… He never makes it seem like he’s above anyone else.”
LB Willie Gay
“You see, honestly, a superhero, a superstar. But behind those doors, behind those walls, off that field, man, he’s a great person, he’s a regular person. There aren’t a select few people he’s with. talks. He talks to everyone – rookies, undrafted guys. Great dad, everyone sees it, great husband. He doesn’t need to talk to younger guys, rookies, guys without status, but those things don’t matter to him. I hope so everyone can see it.”
Follow Nate Davis of USA TODAY Sports on Twitter @ByNateDavis.