Most NFL players have spent their entire lives dreaming of the opportunity to play on the big stage. When you consider the many years of hard work they’ve put in — not to mention the sacrifices they’ve made — it’s not hard to understand why they’d want to coast.
Why not? They have arrived at their goal. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy the ride?
But the greatest NFL players are the ones who understand that playing in the NFL is just one more step on the road to the real goal: to become a champion. The good life can wait until their playing days are over.
Such a player is Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Mahomes kept returning to this theme.
“When you are in this league, you have to do something every single day,” he said. “You have off days, but those off days are usually watching film. There’s really not time to go out and do stuff and really be out too late. I try to just focus in on being in the same routine every single day. I kind of do my certain things at the facility. I go home, and I do the same stuff there it seems like every single day.”
He and his girlfriend Brittany Matthews rarely even go out to eat.
“She doesn’t like that, but after I’m done with the day here, I don’t like leaving the house,” Mahomes explained. “I usually just try to order something to go. And then I have Fitstyle foods that provides me meals, and I usually eat that or to-go foods.”
Even on his 23rd birthday — which was on Monday — the couple stayed in.
“For my birthday, I came up here and got to watch some film,” he said. “When I went home, I didn’t want to go to dinner and my girlfriend had gotten me a cake, so I just ordered Rye to-go on Postmates. That was my birthday. That was what I wanted to do, and she said that was fine with her as long as that’s what I wanted to do.”
You’ve probably already seen a lot about how much of Mahomes’ approach to being a professional athlete comes from his father — MLB pitcher Pat Mahomes, who played for half a dozen clubs from 1992 until 2003. Young Patrick spent a lot of time in major league clubhouses, and had the opportunity to learn at an early age how professional athletes hone their craft.
But Mahomes said his most recent tutor — former Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith — had a lot of influence on him.
“He watched these games on this day, watched these games on this day, focused on this, this day,” he said. “I have kind of taken stuff from that and made it my own. I make sure I am prepared for every single situation. That is something that he was great at — and still is. That has helped me a lot as you get on the field and you get an unscouted look, you are prepared for that unscouted look, and you can make the right protection call and get yourself into the right play.”
Head coach Andy Reid agreed.
“He saw how Alex prepared,” said Reid. “Alex made sure he covered every base, he was right there with him on all that and that’s the way he goes about his business. I don’t think he’s worried about this or that, it’s just getting ready for the team he’s playing and he’s going to try to exhaust that.
“Chad Henne is that same kind of guy,” he continued. “He’s been around it a long time, he’s been a starter, he’s done the backup thing but, he prepares and prepares and prepares. He’s around that, and I think what it really comes down to is that’s how Patrick is. He wants to do well and do the right things and he’s willing to spend the time doing it. It’s important to him.”
Reid was asked if he had seen the same kind of preparation from other quarterbacks he’s coached — like Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb.
“Everybody is different just like everybody in this room is different,” he said. “All three were very unique, and those two [where] I came from, one is in the Hall of Fame and one should be in the Hall of Fame. They’re both top-notch, they both have already put their name on it.
“Patrick’s just starting and it’s time now. It’s time that will determine what he is and all these challenges from these defensive coordinators and defensive personnel, the players, and how he handles all of that. We’re in the second week of hopefully a 15-year career.
“When you’re in the grinder like he is, like I am and like the rest of the team is, you don’t worry about all that, you’re just trying to get ready for a good opponent coming in here.”
Looking ahead to the home opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Mahomes said he’s already familiar with how the 49ers will likely defend against him, but he expressed respect for the upcoming opponent.
“It is the same type of scheme that the Chargers ran and originated in Seattle,” he said of the 49ers defense. “They have a lot of good players. They have Richard Sherman there now, he is a very instinctual player. They have a big defensive line. It is going to be a great challenge for us, especially being our first home game. We have to stay in process. Keep doing what we do well, keep getting better, fixing our mistakes and hopefully come out with the win.”
And Mahomes said he’s really looking forward to this game — which will be his first regular season start at Arrowhead.
“I am extremely excited. I have had this game circled for a long time. Just being able to play at home in front of these fans, it is going to be an amazing thing. I can’t wait for the moment when I get to run out on the field and hear those fans roar.”
It’s probably fair to say that there are a great number of Chiefs fans who are looking forward to making that roar.
Other notes from Wednesday’s media appearances:
Andy Reid said the signing of Sammy Watkins was about maximizing return on a free-agent investment: “I am kind of speaking for Brett Veach on this, but he felt if we were going to spend money on a free agent, try to get the best one, it didn’t matter what side of the ball. These guys are free agents, you are paying them a lot of money, so we felt Sammy was a talented player out there and had an opportunity to go get him. I don’t think he was thinking the other way necessarily, putting him with Patrick or short-changing the defense or anything. You go after free agents, let’s try to get the best guy you possibly can if you are going to pay him the money. That’s how he went about it. Brett tried to help the defense out with Anthony Hitchens, who has done a tremendous job.”
Reid spoke about his trust in the offensive line: “The offensive line is doing a nice job. They have worked very hard at coming together and working. We have a ton of things we can improve on. As defensive coordinators study and see these things, they will throw different wrinkles at you and you have to rise up every week. That’s not a simple part of this. In this business it’snot so much about what you did the week before, it’s about what you do today. We have to keep answering these different challenges. We did okay last week, now we will prepare ourselves for this week.”
Reid also expressed confidence in offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy: “Just in general as a coordinator, when Eric brings it, he brings it. It’s every day. He doesn’t let one thing slide. He goes in the quarterback room and spends time in there. That’s good for Patrick, to see an ex-player and how he approaches the game and also how he approaches it as a coach. There’s no let off. I had Eric as a player and now I have him as a coach and they are the same thing. This is him. It’s attention to detail. I am going to make sure my closet is clean and yours is clean too. If not, I’m going to help you clean it. That’s how he goes about it. He also has that feel of when to back off a little bit and let Patrick do his thing. I have been impressed with that part of him.”