“They’re setting a new NFL record for snow angels — that’s for sure.”
CBS color commentator Dan Fouts’ observation during the Kansas City Chiefs’ 23-3 victory over the Denver Broncos summed up the day pretty well. Their dominant victory over a motivated division rival gave players plenty of chances to celebrate. The snowy conditions at Arrowhead Stadium could have been considered an obstacle for the Chiefs — but early on, it was evident that the players were accepting the weather and were having fun with it. Pre-game shenanigans were at an all-time high.
They continued to enjoy the winter wonderland throughout the day.
“It was awesome. It was a lot of fun,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes recalled after the game. “You saw the guys embracing it. We knew it was going to snow.”
“It was very fun,” said wide receiver Tyreek Hill. “This was my first snow game — and I had a blast with it. I mean, I wouldn’t want to do it again because it was very cold, but I definitely had fun today.”
“I’ll tell you one thing, man: I was excited,” said safety Tyrann Mathieu. “It was my first time playing in that kind of weather, so I was nervous at first — especially with the footing. [But] I had fun.”
It’s easy to look at the team having fun together and chalk it up to being a group of young, energetic guys. But it also indicates a healthy relationship between teammates.
The noticeable enjoyment before, during and after the Broncos game is just the latest example of this team’s championship camaraderie.
The Chiefs have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL.
Last summer, Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice noted the Chiefs had the second-fewest players age 30 or above in the league. That number has changed since then — but it’s still obvious that it’s a young roster.
Most youthful teams are not contenders; they are young because they’re rebuilding. But the Chiefs are able to make it work by having a great mixture of veterans surrounding their young core.
On offense, the veteran presence of players like right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, tight end Travis Kelce and running back LeSean McCoy counter the energy of young players like Mahomes, Hill and rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman.
The defense has experienced leadership from Mathieu, defensive end Frank Clark and linebacker Anthony Hitchens that mixes well with the youth of defensive tackle Chris Jones, cornerback Charvarius Ward and safety Juan Thornhill.
This balance of age creates a culture where the young guns can rely on the older players for mentorship and valuable experience — while the veterans can feed off the energy of their younger teammates.
There may not be a better example of this balance than the relationship between starting safeties Mathieu and Thornhill.
I wanna see my dawgs ball, 8Figures pic.twitter.com/bwNVOTwcoa— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) December 4, 2019
Mathieu is an active Twitter user. Some may criticize players for their heavy usage of social media, but it does give fans a chance to see how a player is thinking and feeling. Mathieu has made it obvious that he’s excited about his partner on the back end of the defense — and Thornhill doesn’t shy away from trying to outdo his mentor.
“At this point, we’re competing against each other,” Thornhill explained to reporters on Sunday. “See who can make the most plays on the ball. When you got two guys back there competing like that, it just makes the secondary a lot better.”
Both intercepted Broncos passes on Sunday. But Mathieu’s was nullified by a penalty.
“He was a little upset,” Thornhill joked to reporters. “But at the same time, he was happy for me.”
It can be easy for a well-performing rookie to get caught up in how well they’re playing. But that’s where Mathieu’s leadership comes in.
“I think on the back end, we are truly confident in what we can do — and in our abilities.” said Mathieu. “We study a lot... I think our guys are committed to the process. It’s important to stay focused.”
It’s helps when players to bond off the field, too; a new level of trust can be built when there is more than just a professional relationship. It’s well-documented that Mahomes and Kelce have become good friends — and there’s no doubt that factors into performances like Kelce had on Sunday: 11 catches for 142 yards.
Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce Raged at Nightclub After Beating Broncos https://t.co/QA6WiuyTLe— TMZ (@TMZ) December 16, 2019
Whether the pair is taking in a Final Four game, going on deep sea fishing trips or “raging” after a victory, the friendship is evident.
But it’s not just those two. Mahomes and Kelce have been joined by other teammates like tight end Blake Bell and wide receivers Demarcus Robinson and Sammy Watkins for events supporting their foundations. These off-field relationships strengthen the on-field connections — and give players an even better reason to try their best to help their teammates succeed.
Thankful to have this man as a teammate! https://t.co/dOigvDsoOH— Frank Clark (@TheRealFrankC_) December 16, 2019
Their belief in one another is an important element of team chemistry; a player might not put in their full effort if they don’t have faith in their teammates’ abilities. Chiefs players make it clear that they recognize and appreciate their talented colleagues.
“He’s the G.O.A.T., he’s the MVP,” exclaimed Hill about Mahomes’ performance against Denver. “No conditions can dictate how far he throws it or how short he throws it. He’s the G.O.A.T. That’s what he does.”
“He is unbelievable. I love that guy.” said Austin Reiter of Kelce on Sunday. “The receivers — and Travis and Blake — were unbelievable. Anyone catching the ball today, I couldn’t believe how well everyone was catching the ball in those conditions. Hats off, those guys were making plays left and right.”
The most amazing part of this team-wide bond is the fact that there are a so many new players in the organization; it’s not easy to build a cohesive group so quickly. Head coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach deserve credit. They have been able to manufacture a culture that is currently exhibiting the closeness it needs for a deep postseason run.
The Chiefs’ main core of players share the hunger for their first Super Bowl championship. That motivation — and their trust and belief in each other — should give fans confidence that the team will put out their absolute best efforts in January.