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Netflix ‘Quarterback’ series largely lives up to its promise

The first episode of the new docu-series emphasizes Kansas City’s quarterback.

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In the opening episode of the new Netflix docu-series “Quarterback,” Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is not exactly revealed as a fierce competitor — three years ago, former Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy took care of that by characterizing him as a “competitive prick” — but on an Internet streaming service, the intensity of that nature comes into clear focus.

We already knew that during the 2022 game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium, Mahomes and Raiders’ edge rusher Maxx Crosby got into it as Las Vegas ran up a 17-0 second-quarter lead. By that time, Crosby had sacked Mahomes twice — and was doing everything he could to get into the quarterback’s head.

It was working.

So when Mahomes is shown connecting the first of four touchdown passes to tight end Travis Kelce, we are not exactly surprised when Mahomes dances toward the end zone, yelling, “I’m here all day! I’m here all day!”

On sanitized NFL Films highlight reels, we’ve seen that kind of thing before. But when Mahomes then gets in Crosby’s face, shouting, “You woke up the wrong motherf—er! You woke up the wrong motherf—er!” we are fully exposed to the reality Bieniemy once described to us.

“All of a sudden, I just go into that mode where I really don’t know what I’m saying,” Mahomes says of the incident in a later interview. “I’m just kind of blacking out and going crazy.”

Head coach Andy Reid is shown calming Mahomes on the sidelines as he repeatedly shouts, “I’m here!” to the Las Vegas bench.

“Whenever Coach Reid has to grab you and pull you aside, you know you’re going too far,” says Mahomes. “He’s usually like, ‘Let your personality show.’”

For Mahomes, that includes not only correctly identifying the motherf—er who shouldn't be awakened, but also seeking to congratulate Crosby after the final snap of the Chiefs’ 30-29 victory.

“Hey! You know I love, you, dawg,” he says to the Raiders’ pass rusher. “Hell of a game. You’re a f—king baller.”

Prior to its release, the show drew praise for also including close looks at the 2022 seasons of the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins and the Atlanta Falcons’ Marcus Mariota — two skilled quarterbacks who have yet to achieve Mahomes’ success. As Episode 1 begins, the show remains true to that; the first couple of games for each player are clearly documented. But by the end of 51-minute opening chapter, it looks more like “The Patrick Mahomes Show.”

It would be asking a lot of the series to avoid emphasizing the season’s eventual MVP (and Super Bowl-winning) quarterback. But there are a total of eight episodes, each one of which is 40-50 minutes long. Later installments may do a better job of telling Cousins’ and Mariota’s stories. Still, in the first one, we see Cousins struggling with the team’s Week 2 loss (which he can easily blame on himself) by visiting the Vikings’ team psychologist, while Mariota discusses his journey to the Falcons in free agency — and grapples with doubts over the birth of his first child.

The wives of all three players provide insights into their husbands’ lives. Brittany Mahomes joins Patrick in describing how they started as “just friends” in high school. Julie Cousins talks about picking her husband’s game-day clothes — and reveals they “shop at Target and Costco” like everyone else. Kyomi Mariota reveals that in Atlanta, she and Marcus are looking forward to a “fresh start” with some coaches who have worked with him before — including head coach Arthur Smith, who was an assistant coach for the Tennessee Titans during Mariota’s five seasons there.

Aside from the opening featuring producer Peyton Manning, Episode 1 is presented without narration. Segments are set up by contemporaneous clips from local and national media personalities. Not everything is being shown for the first time — viewers will likely see film clips they’ve seen before — but there’s enough new material to keep the show fresh and interesting. And there are a few surprises along the way, too.

Since it is — at least in part — a narrative about the season each quarterback had in 2022, “Quarterback” can sometimes seem more like a “mic’d-up” highlight reel. But there are enough new tidbits (and different perspectives) to live up to its billing as an unprecedented look inside the lives of these three players.

That’s a thumbs-up from me, dawg.

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