There’s no more compelling storyline in Super Bowl LV than the matchup between Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady — preparing to start his 10th Super Bowl — and young Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who will be starting his second as the reigning Super Bowl MVP.
This will be the fifth time the two quarterbacks have been on opposite sides of the field. One of them will walk out of Raymond James Stadium with a 3-2 edge on the other.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Mahomes said that he’s been watching Brady since he was a kid.
“If you’re a young athlete — and you play any sport — and you don’t look up to guys like Tom Brady, then you’re crazy,” he declared. “I mean, he’s a guy who’s had success year-in and year-out continues to make himself better — to not be satisfied with where he’s at. He’s the type of greatness that you strive to be like and [grow] toward as you grow up. For me, I grew up watching him play. He’s still here playing — and he’s still at the top of the game.”
In particular, Mahomes said he still admires the way that Brady is able to identify defenses and coverages before each play starts.
“The way he’s able to dissect defenses before the snap is something that I truly admire,” he said. “I’m trying to get to that level. And the way he’s able to move within the pocket, be able to reset his feet, be completely calm and still make throws right on the money — no matter who’s around him — is something that I continue to work on.”
But his head coach thinks that even after just three years in the league, Mahomes might already be playing at the same level.
“Tom is great at it,” acknowledged Andy Reid. “Pat’s gotten to that point now. I mean, he’s [one] of the great ones — Tom included. He knew he had to get better in that area — and he’s done that.”
Back in March, Mahomes appeared on the HBO series “The Shop,” making headlines when he revealed that even up into his Super Bowl season, he “wasn’t very good” at reading opposing offenses.
“One thing you love about Pat is [that] he’s always taking his weaknesses and trying to turn them into strengths,” said Reid. “You appreciate that as a coach — and that’s the way he’s gone about it for the years that he’s been here. It tells a lot about the kid — and it’s also great for his teammates to see that. You can see the improvements he’s made every year.”
Mahomes said that a lot of his improvement has come simply from having more experience in the league.
“You get different looks — especially with our offense, we get a lot of crazy looks, crazy blitzes and stuff like that — and you have to learn how to adjust and to learn how to go out there and have successful plays,” he explained. “This year, I’ve felt super-comfortable recognizing defenses, recognizing blitzes, recognizing coverages and being able to get us into the right play — [to] get a successful play going [with] a completion. So it’s definitely something that I’ll continue to learn — but I’m at a way-different level than I was even last year.”
Mahomes also said that he recognizes that in order to play for as long as Brady has, he’ll have to continue to take care of his body — something that Brady has been vocal about doing during the latter years of his two-decade career.
“If you want to play this sport for a long time — how physical it is — you have to invest as much time into your body as you do anything else,” said Mahomes. “I’ve learned more and more in my young career so far [about] what I can do to keep myself available and healthy — [to] try and be in the best nutritional state I can be in; I feel like I’ve gotten better.”
His goal is to play for just as long as the quarterback he’ll be facing on Sunday.
“I’m going to play as long as they let me,” said Mahomes. “But in order to do that, I’ll have to take care of my body as much as I take care of everything else on the field.”
Win or lose on Sunday, Mahomes intends to continue to learn from Brady’s example.
“As I continue in my career, I’ll still try to do whatever I can to watch the tape on him, because he’s doing it the right way. You can tell by how many Super Bowl championships he has — by the rings on his fingers.”