Now that the Kansas City Chiefs have qualified for the Super Bowl in four of the last five seasons, we’ve become accustomed to running across the unusual interviews that sometimes appear during Super Bowl Week.
But now we’ve encountered one that might contain one of the week’s most interesting insights.
On Wednesday, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young appeared with host Kevin Clark on the “This is Football” podcast for Omaha Productions and ESPN.
Interesting perspective from Steve Young on THIS IS FOOTBALL about this Chiefs team: how they got better on offense as the season went along, Mahomes, Kelce and why he thought Taylor Swift was a "distraction" in the first half of the year and why she's now their "superpower." pic.twitter.com/XfOgHxnAf0— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) February 7, 2024
Naturally, Young spoke at length about his former team, which will be facing the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday night. While with the 49ers, Young collected three Super Bowl rings (two of them while backing up Joe Montana) and two NFL MVP awards over 13 seasons — which was enough for him to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
It’s also true, however, that Young and Kansas City head coach Andy Reid are very good friends — and have been ever since Reid (then a graduate assistant) coached Young at BYU in 1982.
But in the part of the interview we’re sharing here, Young and Clark got into a conversation about how Chiefs’ players like quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce have matured under Reid.
Young then held up his hand. “People are going to think this is goofball,” he cautioned.
“Taylor Swift coming to the games and dating Travis put a huge burden on the team,” began Young. “It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It’s just the nature of the whole thing. It’s a distraction — and you could see the weight of that in the first half of the season.”
This is hardly a news flash, right? Many NFL fans around the country — and some in Kansas City — have been shouting this from rooftops all season. But Young believes the team’s maturity has allowed it to turn the tables on the whole situation.
“What I saw towards the end of the season,” claimed Young, ”is now an ownership of that distraction — to where it’s now a superpower — because there’s a maturity.”
Young thinks that this was just another example of the Chiefs’ ability to turn what would normally be a liability into an asset.
“They went and took it to the Ravens at home when the Ravens looked like they were going to run over everybody,” said Young. “I think it’s that maturity factor — the power that they have to look at the context of the moment, [to] see the 49ers for who they are [and] see who [they] are. ‘How do we make sure that we don’t get taken advantage of?’ That’s a maturity that most teams don’t get to.”
So Young believes that on Sunday, Kansas City will roll into Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas as a team that will be difficult to beat.
“They’re coming into this game in a really powerful position [from] handling that unique challenge in a way like you saw [in] the championship game: Andy’s pointing to [Swift] — and she’s pointing back — like she’s part of the family now.
“That’s a powerful place — rather than a distraction.”
In other words, the distraction now rests with each opposing team — rather than with the Chiefs.
“It’s now your distraction; it’s not mine,” said Young. “I think they’re much more dangerous today for the Super Bowl because of that.”
Clark stepped back into the conversation. “I will say you’re right,” he said to Young. “There will be people who think that’s... goofball.”
But Young would not be deterred.
“Look, I’m about psychology,” he insisted. “How players take stuff in — and what distractions do. And I can tell you that there’s an empowerment that’s come [to the Chiefs] through dealing with this throughout the season.”
Even if Kansas City dominates San Francisco on Sunday night (and honestly, either team dominating the other one seems like the least likely possibilities), Young’s theory will remain just that: a theory. Still... it comes from someone with real NFL experience at the highest level of the game — and who is well-acquainted with how Reid does things.
Whatever else is true, it’s an original, unusual thought from a typically crazy Super Bowl Week.