On Sunday, Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert got a big surprise. With just minutes to go until the Chargers were to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in their brand-new So-Fi Stadium, Herbert learned he’s be starting in place of veteran Tyrod Taylor, who was supposed to be holding down the fort this season while the first-round rookie learned the NFL’s ropes.
Under the circumstances, Herbert performed well, completing 22 of 33 for 311 yards, a touchdown and an interception — and had his team on the brink of defeating the defending world champions. Only an overtime field goal prevented him from getting a big win in his first NFL start.
And after the game, there were words of encouragement from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes as the two men embraced on the field.
“Hey man, way to play man. Going to play for a long time,” Mahomes can be heard saying to Herbert in an NFL mic’d-up highlight video. “Just stay away from those big hits,” he added. “I learned early, you gotta stay away from them.”
It was reminiscent of another time, when a different young quarterback had lost in overtime to a defending world champion — but it was then-New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady who was congratulating Mahomes.
“He said, ‘Man, you had a heck of a season,’” Mahomes later recalled of his conversation with Brady following 2018’s AFC Championship game. “He knows what it’s like to win a lot of big games; he knows what it’s like to lose some big games — not many, but a few. He just said, ‘You have to keep grinding.’ He loved the way that I played. It was awesome for him to do that and show that class at such an exciting moment.”
And now, Mahomes — just turned 25 — is already doing the same for other young quarterbacks. It a reflection not only of how quickly he has become the face of the league, but also his understanding of his place within it.
As usual... Mahomes never misses an opportunity to do something the right way.