Like many NFL fans, Saturday's late-night news about Andrew Luck's retirement shocked me to my core.
As the notification from Adam Schefter rolled across my screen, I'll admit my first thoughts weren't well-wishes to Andrew Luck; I couldn't help but think the Chiefs' road to the Super Bowl just got that much easier.
A once-critical Sunday Night Football tilt between the Chiefs and Colts in Week 5 now features a seemingly-crippled Colts team without its biggest star. For the first time since 1998, the Colts will go in to a season without Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck on their roster. Pending the growth and development of Jacoby Brissett, they now enter the desolate quarterback wilderness.
My next thoughts were of football mortality and the ever-changing nature of the NFL.
Like many noted on Twitter, if Andrew Luck can retire at the apex of his career and physical condition, certainly the door is now open for other stars across the league with health concerns -- whether physical or mental -- to step away from the game.
This has to be seen as a positive for the league. Players should be empowered to listen to what their bodies and minds are telling them. For a league with safety and health concerns at the forefront, I can only wonder if the unexpected retirement of Andrew Luck will be a harbinger of things to come. Or will it remain an outlier like those of Barry Sanders, Gale Sayers and Jim Brown -- other NFL stars who hung it up before their fans would have liked?
That led me to another thought: Patrick Mahomes is a unicorn.
We're beyond lucky to have him. Anyone who says that Chiefs fans deserve Mahomes because of long history without a homegrown franchise quarterback is wrong. He is an immense blessing that none of us should ever take for granted. Nor should the Chiefs organization take the opportunity he represents for granted.
The Colts franchise used the number one overall pick in the NFL draft to select John Elway in 1983, Peyton Manning in 1998 and Andrew Luck in 2012. Somehow, those three players brought just one Super Bowl victory to the Colts. Two of those players rank among the top 10 NFL quarterbacks of all time, while Luck represents immense promise wasted away by the ineptitude of former Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, who failed to surround Luck with enough talent to keep him upright and healthy.
This offseason, the Chiefs (well, I really mean Tyreek Hill, but what's the difference?) came very close to wasting away a year of young Patrick Mahomes' career.
Think about it.
The Chiefs were inches away from going to the Super Bowl last year. Heck, if you were to replay the AFC Championship game 100 times, the Chiefs might even have won more than 50 percent of the rematches. Now that we know what Patrick Mahomes can be, our expectation should be no less than winning a Super Bowl.
Every. Single. Year.
We can't afford to lose a star wide receiver made in football heaven to pair perfectly with our quarterback. We can't afford poor drafting by our general manager. And we sure as heck can't afford to boo Patrick off the field the day he does decide to hang up his cleats for good. Every fan and employee of the Chiefs should know this: from now on, any season with Mahomes -- and no Super Bowl victory -- is a season wasted.
Luck's retirement should remind us that we don't know for how long we'll get to have Mahomes.
Any die-hard Chiefs fan will remember the dark 2012 season: its 2-14 record... the tragedy of Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins... Scott Pioli... Romeo Crennel. This franchise has come a long way in the last seven years. We finally have what every NFL fan dreams about: a quarterback that may one day go down as the best to ever play the game.
That's how good Mahomes was in his first season as a starter. But we are still not far removed from the NFL wasteland. Until Mahomes' career is finished, we don't know exactly when the end will be -- and if he will fulfill his immense potential.
Let's not take any season, month, or week for granted. Colts fans won't be doing that any more. Neither should we.
Here's to celebrating every single day we have with our very own quarterback miracle: Patrick Mahomes.