When a team reaches the Super Bowl, there is a tendency for fans’ grievances from the NFL’s regular season to disappear.
In 2023, the Kansas City Chiefs provided a good case study. Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a dreadful regular season in which his overall statistics plummeted from 2022. Fans were furious.
But in the playoffs, the veteran wideout has been clutch. One of his seven postseason catches came at the two-minute warning against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game, sealing Kansas City’s appearance in Sunday’s Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers in Las Vegas.
“It was great to help my team to get to a victory,” Valdes-Scantling recalled in a media appearance on Tuesday, “but it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t like, ‘Oh yeah, this is a weight off of my shoulders’ or anything like that. It was just great to help this team win a game.”
Still, head coach Andy Reid appreciates his efforts, which came after a 2023 campaign marred by miscues at key moments.
“MVS has done a real nice job with that,” Reid told reporters on Tuesday. “He had a couple of big drops early in the season. He just kept working. He’s mentally tough. He’s smart. He understands the offense. He just pounded through it — and it worked out. The quarterback maintained confidence in him and has kept using him throughout.”
Reid, of course, was referring to his veteran quarterback Patrick Mahomes — the clear-cut face of the NFL. Valdes-Scantling recognizes he’s had a unique opportunity: to not only play with Mahomes, but also with Aaron Rodgers during his tenure with the Green Bay Packers.
While recently retired NFL legend Tom Brady is widely considered the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, Valdes-Scantling doesn’t see it that way.
“I’ve played with the two best quarterbacks to ever play this game,” Valdes-Scantling declared, “especially when it comes to arm talent. Obviously, Brady has all the statistics — but I think Pat’s getting pretty close to breaking some of those. When it comes to arm talent — between Aaron and Pat — they’re equal. Having those two guys be my quarterbacks for my career has been nothing but life-changing.
“I’m grateful for both those guys. I’ve got great friendships with both those guys. I hope that I can finish my career here with Pat — and watch Aaron finish his career and be good.”
Thanks to the dazzling arm strength they demonstrated in college, both Mahomes and Rodgers were chosen in the first round of the draft. But on Sunday, the Chiefs will face quarterback Brock Purdy, who was taken with the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. Valdes-Scantling respects what the 49ers’ quarterback has accomplished —although he anticipates the second-year player will face a formidable challenge from Kansas City’s defense.
“He’s a hell of a player,” said the six-year NFL veteran. “To be the last pick of the draft [and] to be playing for a Super Bowl — and up for MVP talks? Obviously, he’s a super-talented, gifted guy. He has a great team around him. I’m excited to see what he can do against our defense, because we have a really good defense. I think it will be his toughest challenge to date.”
Valdes-Scantling will be playing in his second Super Bowl in as many seasons with Kansas City. He anticipates that last year’s experience will help him know what to expect on Sunday.
“Just having that experience is going to be great,” he noted. “Just learning how to deal with the long TV timeouts and the long halftime breaks — and things like that. [It’s] going to be helpful to pass down to the younger guys about how to keep your body ready for a four-hour football game.”
Even the venue for Sunday’s game — Allegiant Stadium, which is home to the Las Vegas Raiders — will feel a little like home to Valdes-Scantling.
“It’s a familiar place that we’ve had to play at a couple of times,” he remarked. “I think they call it ‘Arrowhead West’ or something like that. Just being able to go in and play in a familiar place is going to be good.”
The Chiefs have played four games at Allegiant since it opened in 2020. On Sunday, they’ll be looking for their fifth straight victory in the stadium.