Last week, we saw a few glimpses of how Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes spent his summer. During the early part of the offseason, Mahomes spent a lot of time in public at sporting and promotional events. But a few days before training camp, he was clearly getting some vacation time.
Naturally, Mahomes was asked about this when he appeared before the media on the first day of Chiefs training camp on Tuesday.
”I didn’t know the ocean was a part of the trip,” he explained. “My girlfriend is obviously an animal lover, so we have the dogs. That was her big deal. She wanted to go out there and ride the horses. Somehow, someway, the people that took us on the tour were Texas Tech graduates, so they made sure to exactly show me the ins and outs of everything. I haven’t rode a horse since I was like eight years old, but it was cool to get up on there and in the ocean. I didn’t know horses liked to swim, but I guess they do.”
But even on his vacation, Mahomes mixed some business with pleasure — throwing balls to Travis Kelce and Demarcus Robinson on the beach.
Mahomes was asked how important it was to use that kind of time to bond with his teammates.
“For sure,” he answered. “Being able to know someone not only on the field but off the field so you can know what they’re going to do when they are running their routes, or knowing what they want or what kind of ball they want thrown to them. Being with these guys — we did it all last season; every Friday night we would hang out at each other’s houses and [do] stuff like that — you kind of build that chemistry and [know] who the guy is more than just the football player.”
But once he returned from his vacation, Mahomes was seen on video taking a few more extra reps with some of his teammates — including Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman and Gehrig Dieter. Even Tyreek Hill — on the day before the NFL would announce he will not serve a suspension this season — was part of the group.
Mahomes was asked about this workout, too.
”I think that is just something that we do as a team,” he responded. “As a brotherhood, we always are working together. If it was with Tyreek or if it was with Travis Kelce or if it was with Mecole Hardman, I was always trying just to get some extra work in to kind of build that chemistry. If you look at the great teams, the great players, they are always trying to get better. Not just within the practice, they want to get better outside of it in order to be the best they possibly can when the season comes.”
One word — brotherhood — kept coming up as Mahomes spoke on Tuesday.
”I got to throw with him,” he said of Hill. “He’s in an excited mindset, I guess you would say. He’s ready to be out here and be a part of the guys and get to enjoy this. Like I said, it’s a brotherhood and we’re excited that we can go out there and just build with each other and get better together.”
It even came up when Mahomes was asked about being in camp for the third time as a pro.
”Yeah, you enjoy the brotherhood,” said Mahomes. “Just being with the guys for 24 hours, it seems like, and being able to focus on football and nothing else is something that I really do enjoy. Just getting up here to St. Joe — they treat us amazing here — so I’m just excited to be here with all of the guys and all of those young guys and build relationships with them.”
Rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman’s participation in the impromptu workout last week wasn’t the only indicator that Mahomes is serious about developing relationships with the young players. Hardman — who had spoken to the press before Mahomes — worked his way into the press gaggle and asked his quarterback a question.
“What are your expectations for this season?” asked Hardman. “How do you prepare yourself to capitalize off what you did last year?”
”It’s obviously a great question,” Mahomes responded. “I could barely see your face with that chain on.”
The press laughed, but a larger point was being made.
Ever since his arrival in Kansas City more than six years ago, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has had one consistent point of emphasis: family. Mahomes’ words on Tuesday — and his actions throughout the offseason — are a reflection of that emphasis.
No one can reasonably argue that Reid — and his players — don’t take what they do on the field seriously. Reid himself is a master of detailed preparation — and his players follow his example. Yet Mahomes’ activities with his teammates before training camp — along with other things like right tackle Mitch Schwartz’ team barbecues — show a team that is also emphasizing having fun together.
This serious commitment to preparation coupled with a genuine feeling of brotherhood — and a streak of mischief — is something that has characterized a number of NFL championship teams.
Play smart. Play hard. And play loose.