One hot summer day in August of 1994, I returned from a long day at work and turned on ESPN’s SportsCenter. The anchor started talking about the amazing comeback at the US Amateur Golf Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
The first highlight was of this skinny 18-year-old kid with a straw-brimmed hat putting from the fringe on the famed par-3, 17th hole. His putt rolled with perfect speed and aim and when it dropped, instead of just casually tipping his hat and waving to the crowd as he reached to pick his ball out of the cup, he enthusiastically pumped his fist in a way that would become iconic for the next two and a half decades.
Oh, and he had a memorable name: Tiger Woods.
I made it a point to follow that young man, not knowing what he would become. But as time went on, it became clear that he was a special golfer. He began doing things that had never been seen before. I also became aware that watching him play live was watching history in the making. As Woods continued to take the golf world by storm, I followed every bit of it. One time, one of my sons asked me why I always wanted to watch Woods when he was playing. I told him that it is not often we have the opportunity to watch someone with that kind of talent and ability do his thing while it was happening.
I truly believed that watching Woods, what he was able to do with a golf ball and on the golf course, was something that did not come along often in life — and I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. Watching Woods play golf, in his prime, was watching one of the best golfers of all time play the game at a level no one had ever seen before.
We are witnessing the same thing with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. We most likely can recall when we each first realized that the Chiefs had something extraordinary on our hands watching him play. For me, it was the ”meaningless” Week 17 game of the 2017 season — Mahomes’ first start.
The Chiefs had already locked up the division and the fourth seed, and a win or a loss would not affect the Chiefs’ standing. Mahomes started that game, and the Chiefs had run up a comfortable lead of 24-10 with 7:02 in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Bray came in, and just two minutes and 18 seconds later, it was a tie game. Mahomes reentered the game and drove the Chiefs the length of the field to get them within field goal range where Harrison Butker kicked a 30-yard field goal as time ran out. But it was during that final drive with under two minutes to go that I first saw it. It was first-and-10 at the Chiefs 32.
Mahomes got flushed out of the pocket and found himself running backward and to his right. I fully expected — after watching Alex Smith for five years — for him to throw the ball out of bounds in that situation. But just a few yards from running out of bounds, Mahomes launched the ball down the field and hit Demarcus Robinson in stride between three Broncos defenders for a 12-yard gain and a first down. I looked at my sons and said, “This kid is special.”
Seeing Mahomes do the unbelievable has become commonplace for Chiefs fans. But here is just a few words of encouragement to “Chiefs Kingdom.”
Realize how long Chiefs fans have waited to see this. Many wondered whether Kansas City ever would, but the time is now. The Chiefs are the team everyone wants to see. It is why the Chiefs now have so many primetime games.
Chiefs fans hold this great privilege for the foreseeable future. Enjoy it while it is here because, in what will eventually seem like a short time, it will all be over. Look no further than the New England Patriots to see what life may be like post-Mahomes.
Relish in the fact that every other team and fan base in the league would give anything to have what exists in Kansas City. Take the time to enjoy and savor every bit of it.