Sports

Patrick Mahomes Should Retire Now, on Top

Don’t even play in the Super Bowl. There’s nothing left to prove, man.

Patrick Mahomes holds up the Lamar Hunt trophy.
Patrick Mahomes and Jim Nantz share a laugh.
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs have been seen as something of a cursed franchise for most of their history. It may be difficult to believe if you watched them beat the Tennessee Titans 35–24 in Sunday’s AFC Championship game, but there really was a solid half-century when things never went the Chiefs’ way. But now that they’re heading to their first Super Bowl since 1970, we can look back and see that they were never cursed at all. A half-century of misfortune is actually no big deal if it means your team eventually gets Patrick Mahomes, a football-playing alien who has perfected the sport in just his second full season as an NFL starter.

Mahomes’ stat line will tell you he had yet another spotless game through the air (294 yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions), but no matter how pristine those numbers are they don’t begin to do his performance justice. This was the second straight week that the Chiefs found themselves down double-digits early, and the second straight week that Mahomes calmly erased his team’s deficit before halftime. After the Titans went up 17-7, it took him just 4 minutes and 16 seconds to engineer a pair of touchdown drives. A nice chunk of that time was spent on a meandering 27-yard run that put Kansas City ahead for good.

Give the Titans credit. Unlike the Houston Texans, the Chiefs’ opponents in the divisional round, Kansas City spotted Tennessee only a 10-point head start. Who knows what would have happened had they been given the same 24-point cushion the Texans briefly enjoyed last week? No need to answer that question—we all know Mahomes would have chopped them up, too. I mean, how do you stop this kind of throw?

If this were 17th-century Massachusetts he would be burned at the stake for that pass. Luckily for Mahomes, society has warmed to this kind of witchcraft, and so his punishment is a ticket to Miami for the Super Bowl. That is, if he decides making the trip is worth it.

I know I said that statistics don’t paint an accurate picture of Mahomes’ greatness, but his postseason numbers are still worth marveling at. In four games he has passed for 1,188 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. His only defeat came in last year’s AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. Recall that the Chiefs lost in overtime, and that Mahomes didn’t even get a chance to touch the ball during that final period. After watching him play for two seasons, I have precisely zero doubt that he would have easily scored had he been granted one last possession. Just ask the Texans and Titans—they’d certainly agree.

What is left for Mahomes to prove? The obvious answer is “win a Super Bowl,” but plenty of quarterbacks have done that. Mahomes has achieved something even more impressive. He’s reached a point where we can all just assume that he’s going to win. Why ruin this by actually playing the game? Walk away now, Patrick. You’ve earned it.