In a thrilling end to a season defined by adversity and perseverance, the Kansas City Chiefs remain atop the NFL world after beating the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII, 25-22. While Chiefs head coach Andy Reid — alongside the superstar duo of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce — once again showcased his brilliance on football’s biggest stage, it was wide receiver Mecole Hardman whose last-second touchdown sealed the game in overtime and delivered Kansas City their fourth Super Bowl championship in franchise history.
Mecole Hardman: Super Bowl Legend— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) February 12, 2024
“I couldn’t be happier for my guy,” Kelce said about Hardman after the game. “I’ll tell you what, it brought me to tears seeing that he was the man that got us this ring. Sometimes the media can be pretty harsh on the guy.
“Mecole is one of my favorite teammates ever. It’s because he just keeps showing up. He keeps trying to find ways to win. He had a huge play for us early on that kind of sparked us and then on top of that, found a way to win the game for us when everybody counted him out — even the (New York) Jets counted him out. We were so excited when he got back in the building. He’s the kind of guy that brings everybody together. He’s got that kind of personality.”
It’s poetic that the Chiefs’ season ended with a wide receiver scoring the game-winning touchdown. From dropped passes to heartbreaking penalties, Kansas City’s wide receiving corps was easily the team’s most criticized unit this year. Having said that, they continued to fight through their struggles all the way to Sunday’s big victory in a testament to the group’s mental toughness.
"I caught that pass and I blacked out." - Mecole Hardman pic.twitter.com/ESd894cgU2— NFL on CBS (@NFLonCBS) February 12, 2024
“He was cut, and we brought him back,” Reid noted about Hardman. “That’s a tough thing to handle mentally. He came in with a positive attitude and just said, hey, I just want to help you guys win. We know what he does best, and [Offensive Coordinator Matt Nagy] does a great job of putting him in positions. He’s got that mastered with that kid, where to put him in and how to use him. So, you saw that tonight.”
Hardman personifies the adversity that the Chiefs faced all season long. After being drafted by Kansas City in 2019, Hardman would go on to win two Super Bowls as a member of the Chiefs before leaving this past offseason to sign with the New York Jets.
However, due to a crowded Jets wide receiver room, Hardman rarely saw the field and soon became expendable.
The Chiefs, in desperate need of receiving help, pounced on the opportunity to reunite the receiver with his former team by trading the Jets a sixth-round pick. While Hardman’s return didn’t yield immediate results for the Chiefs, his familiarity with the team, and Mahomes in particular, eventually rewarded them with their greatest moment of the season.
“I played with Mecole (Hardman) for a long time,” said Mahomes. “He’s always ready for the moment. He’s someone that continues to practice hard and get better. Obviously, that receiver rotation, we were bouncing around a lot of guys all year long, and those guys continued to work. I mean, just like last Super Bowl man, you never know who it’s going to be. It’s about everybody being ready for the moment, and he was ready for that moment.”
With back-to-back Super Bowl championships now in the books, the Chiefs can finally breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate an arduous, yet rewarding, season. Don’t expect that celebratory mood to last very long, as the reigning champs are already looking forward to doing it all again next season.
“I’m trying to go for that three-peat,” Mahomes proclaimed. “It’s an ongoing thing in NFL. I think Tom (Brady) said it best. Once you win that championship and you have those parades and you get those rings, you’re not the champ anymore. You have to come back with that same mentality.
“I learned from guys like who have been the greatest of all time at the top of their level, so that’s my mindset. I’m going to celebrate with my guys because of how we done this season, but then we’re going to work our way to get back to this game next year.”