Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes spoke out Friday following recent criticism of himself and a pair of other Black signal-callers—Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals—while talking with reporters at training camp (h/t Adam Teicher of ESPN).
"Obviously, the Black quarterback has had to battle to be in this position that we are to have this many guys in the league playing. Every day, we're proving that we should have been playing the whole time. We've got guys that can think just as well as they can use their athleticism. It's always weird when you see guys like me, Lamar, Kyler kind of get that on them when other guys don't. But at the same time we're going out there to prove ourselves every day to show we can be some of the best quarterbacks in the league."
Mahomes notably received a pointed criticism from an unnamed defensive play-caller, who spoke to The Athletic's Mike Sando as part of Sando's annual quarterback rankings, a survey of 50 coaches and executives:
"We love Mahomes because of his unorthodox throws, not because of his natural pocket presence. And when that disappears, that is when they lose games. I don't think that is a 1. I think that is a 2. Nothing against the guy. I love the kid. But take his first read away and what does he do? He runs, he scrambles and he plays streetball."
In the same article, an unnamed defensive coordinator criticized Jackson:
"If he has to pass to win the game, they ain't winning the game. He's so unique as an athlete and he's really a good football player, but I don't [care] if he wins the league MVP 12 times, I don't think he'll ever be a 1 as a quarterback. He'll be a 1 as a football player, but not as a quarterback. So many games come down to two-minute, and that is why they have a hard time advancing even when they are good on defense. Playoffs are tight. You have to be able to throw the ball, and he is just so inconsistent throwing the ball. It is hit or miss."
Murray received criticism after the Cardinals included a four-hour independent study clause for game weeks in his five-year, $230.5 million extension. It has since been removed.
Reid came to Mahomes' defense when asked about the "streetball" remark.
Aaron Ladd @aaronladd0
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Chiefs?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Chiefs</a> Andy Reid on Mahomes 'streetball' comparisons: "Just take a peek at [the film], see how many times he hits the second receiver." <a href="https://t.co/zWRauWeAT8">pic.twitter.com/zWRauWeAT8</a>
The comment about Jackson drew the ire of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who spoke with the media earlier this week.
"I don't know who this guy named anonymous is," Harbaugh said, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. "I haven't met him yet. I don't even know why we report on what he has to say. It is what it is. It's just baloney. It's a big nothing burger."
Jackson also was asked about the criticism.
Murray addressed his work ethic amid the controversy about the clause that was in his contract:
Simply put, there's different discourse about Black quarterbacks.
Andscape's Justin Tinsley put it best when speaking about the criticism of Black signal-callers—and specifically the language used to describe them—on ESPN's Around the Horn.
Justin Tinsley @JustinTinsley
Just bringing this back to get things flowing given Mahomes' comments today about the critiques around him, Lamar and Kyler Murray this week (h/t: <a href="https://twitter.com/aaronladd0?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@aaronladd0</a> from previous RT) <a href="https://t.co/NItVerNPgW">https://t.co/NItVerNPgW</a>
Mahomes, Jackson and Murray are among the best at their position, and Mahomes can stake a claim as the best. Jackson was the 2019 NFL MVP, and Murray just led the Cardinals to their first playoff appearance in six years.
Each of their teams has Super Bowl prospects in 2022, and they'll kick things off with Week 1 matchups on Sept. 11. Mahomes' Chiefs will visit Murray's Cardinals, while Jackson's Ravens will take on the New York Jets.