On Saturday night, HBO premiered the latest episode of “The Shop: Uninterrupted.” Set in a barbershop, it’s a free-for-all discussion among celebrities, athletes and entrepreneurs that was created by LeBron James and Maverick Carter. On Saturday’s episode, Carter was joined by actor Chadwick Boseman, NBA star Trae Young, musician Roddy Ricch, comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish, businessman Steve Stoute and writer Paul Rivera.
Right off the bat, the other guests — most of whom are worldwide celebrities — wanted to know about the Super Bowl. Viewing it through the lens of his own profession, Boseman remarked that the third-and-15 play halfway through the fourth quarter was “a movie moment.”
”I told my dad, ‘I had to make it dramatic in the end,’” said Mahomes. “I played bad for three quarters — three and a half quarters — and then on third-and-15, I remember talking to Tyreek Hill. I said, ‘Hey, I’m throwing it to you. I don’t care what coverage they play. You keep running. I’m going to throw it to you. You’re going to make some plays.’
”I asked for that [Jet Chip] play whether we got the first down or not. I said, ‘Third-and-15 or if we get the first down. They’re overplaying it. Let’s let Tyreek make a play. Use that speed, use that athleticism.’
“Sometimes, players just have to make plays.” he added. “I think that’s the biggest thing. You can’t overcomplicate everything. It’s about guys making plays against other guys. And I have a lot of good guys around me. So I just gave them a chance to make a play.”
From a excerpt of the show released late last week, we had already learned that Mahomes would admit to the other guests that he “didn’t understand how to read defenses until like halfway through last year,” and hoped to learn enough “to go out there and call plays and do that different stuff.” In the full episode, he expanded on that theme — recalling a red zone situation in the Week 15 game against the Denver Broncos.
“I remember [when] we played the Broncos in the snow. We had kind of moved the ball well in the red zone and they had played zone coverage every single time. And so I wanted to call a [play for that coverage], but Coach Reid called a man-beater. He was like, ‘Nah, I want to call this man-beater right now.’ I looked at Coach and I was like, ‘What are we doing?’ [But] we got out there, and those dudes were playing man coverage. Touchdown.
“He knew it,” Mahomes marveled. “I want to be able to be on that level.”
He was asked how he is able to shut out the praise that has been heaped upon him in the first two seasons as a starter.
”Growing up, I saw guys like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter,” he continued. “[I saw] they were at the top of the game and how much work they put in. I think that instilled in me at a young age that it’s not about the top. It’s about the process of getting there — and the process of every day, staying there. I have this same process that I go through every single week [and] every single day — to prepare myself for each and every game — and it didn’t change from when I was a year one rookie (and not playing) to now. I’m doing the same exact stuff.”
The conversation eventually turned to the issues that black athletes face as they strive to succeed — and whether Mahomes felt pressure about it.
”I didn’t feel any added pressure until this year.” he said. “I don’t know what it was about this year. It could have been Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson — and how we kind of elevated our games, doing our thing — but growing up, my dad played baseball. There’s every race. Domnicans, Venezuelans — no matter what it is, it’s everybody there. So I didn’t know any different. I just thought it was, ‘the best player played.’ So I didn’t watch football like that.
”I think this year, seeing how much it meant for us to go out there and show that we can do this — that we could be at the top of the league — and it wasn’t just running, just scrambling or doing all that different stuff. We were just mentally dominating the game.”
Even then, Mahomes said it took time for it to sink in.
“’I started realizing it after I played either Deshaun or Lamar. They had a little special on SportCenter, and I could see how much it was impacting not only me, but the kids below me. And the guys that came before me — Doug Williams and all those guys — I knew their stories, but it hadn’t impacted me as much as it did until I realized that I couldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for guys like that coming before me and laying the foundation for me to come out and play.”
But perhaps the most interesting thing about the episode was watching these individuals — each of them successful in diverse professions — find common ground. Haddish spoke of filling up hundreds of notebooks with ideas for her standup comedy act — and then repeatedly testing them in front of different audiences, experimenting with variations on the ideas to find the best way to present each one. Ricch spoke about going into the studio each day to flesh out new ideas — comparing it to Mahomes’ and Young’s daily trips to the gym.
And then Boseman spoke about the process of acting, saying there’s always a part of him in every part that he plays — whether it’s a fictional Wakandan prince or the real-life Jackie Robinson.
”It’s always you,” he explained. “It’s like a glass of wine that’s poured into your glass. It takes your shape. So it’s always you. It’s ‘who would I be if I was in this situation? Who would I be if I was born in Wakanda? Who would I be if I grew up in Pasadena and played several sports and then somebody asked me to be the first black man to break into the major leagues?’ Who would I be?”
It’s the same with Mahomes. In college — and through his first year in the NFL — he depended on his raw talent to succeed. But now, he’s pouring the wine into his own glass; Andy Reid’s accumulated wisdom is assuming a new shape that is based on Mahomes himself.
It reminded me of an August day in 2018, when I was sitting among a group of Arrowhead Pride readers in the stands at Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph. Watching Mahomes throw one deep pass after another in scrimmages, I remarked that Chiefs fans were going to be driven crazy watching Reid turn the young gunslinger into an NFL pocket passer.
But to this point, no one seems to be complaining.