Look away, Bears fans: It’s the Patrick Mahomes Super Bowl
The Chiefs quarterback was one of almost 200 players, coaches and staffers to participate in the Super Bowl media circus Monday. But most in the art-deco-inspired baseball stadium would have shown up just to see him.
MIAMI — The face of the NFL smiled politely into a sea of TV cameras from a dais in shallow center field at Marlins Park.
In his trademark gruff voice, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes answered each question on Super Bowl media night Monday, no matter how insipid.
A favorite pregame meal? Spaghetti, but it depends on what time the game is. Best Kansas City restaurant? Jack Stack, the famous barbecue joint.
‘‘I should say St. Patrick’s Day,’’ Mahomes said, ‘‘but I’m going to go with Christmas.’’
Unlike Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Mahomes didn’t have to answer questions about his supermodel wife. Unlike former Colts and Broncos star Peyton Manning, he wasn’t quizzed about his kid brother.
Instead, Mahomes’ juiciest questions were about his father of the same name, a journeyman reliever who spent the 2002 season with the Cubs. And he mentioned, in passing, his childhood relationship with White Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech, a fellow hard-throwing Texan.
‘‘He was probably a little better than I could’ve been,’’ Mahomes said.
Not in football. Perhaps no one walking the planet could be.
Mahomes was one of almost 200 players, coaches and staffers to participate in the Super Bowl media circus. But most in the art-deco-inspired baseball stadium would have shown up just to see him.
Welcome to the Patrick Mahomes Super Bowl, his chance to back up his NFL Most Valuable Player trophy of last season with status afforded only to the greats of the game.
Look away, Bears fans.
Look away from the smile as bright as the white warmup suits worn by the Super Bowl teams under the TV lights and from the gushing by Chiefs and 49ers alike.
‘‘Every day is an honor to work with him,’’ Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
‘‘Unbelievable,’’ 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. ‘‘You’ve seen the tape, haven’t you?’’
The Bears could have had him, of course. Rather than trade up to select quarterback Mitch Trubisky No. 2 overall in the 2017 draft, the Bears could have stayed at No. 3 and drafted the rocket-armed Texas Tech star. They even could have traded back, pocketed a draft pick for their troubles and still picked Mahomes before the Chiefs took him 10th overall.
Because they didn’t — Mahomes said the Chiefs were the team he wanted to draft him, anyway — Sunday will prove to be more painful to Chicago fans than the Chiefs’ dismantling of the Bears in December. Remember when Mahomes threw a touchdown pass, then held up 10 fingers to indicate exactly how many draft picks he lasted?
Look away, Bears general manager Ryan Pace. Mahomes must haunt him like Jacob Marley — and will continue to do so as long as he’s upright. That might be until 2036 or longer, with injury luck (a dislocated kneecap couldn’t slow him this season) and medical advancement.
Amazingly, Mahomes is only 24. If he beats the 49ers on Sunday, he’ll become the second-youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl — about six months older than Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was when he won Super Bowl XL. Roethlisberger was almost a spectator then, completing 9 of 21 passes for 123 yards.
Mahomes is the gun-slinging, standard-changing face of the NFL. The league is ready for Mahomes’ generation.
Since Rich Gannon quarterbacked the Raiders to the Super Bowl title after the 2003 season, the following passers have represented the AFC in the title game: Brady (eight times), Manning (four times), Roethlisberger (three times) and Joe Flacco (once).
Manning is 43. Brady is 42. Roethlisberger will be 38 in two weeks.
Look away, Chicago. Look away the way Mahomes does when he throws no-look passes like an NBA star, showing the flash of Stephen Curry with a football helmet.
He even throws behind-the-back passes in practice. Quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka, who played at Northwestern, suspects he does it to drive the coaching staff crazy. But their anger level, Kafka said, depends on whether the pass is complete.
It usually is.
‘‘He practices crazy stuff,’’ said Chiefs special-teams coach Dave Toub, the former Bears guru. ‘‘He does no-look stuff all the time. I’m talking behind-the-back passes.’’
Could it happen in a game? In the Super Bowl?
‘‘If the time is right and that’s the only thing he’s got, you might see behind-the-back passes,’’ Toub said.
Can you imagine?
In fact, Bears fans, maybe you should look away.