A Super Bowl Win Would Push Patrick Mahomes into All-Time Great Territory

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJanuary 29, 2020

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in Aventura, Fla., for NFL Super Bowl 54 football game. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Patrick Mahomes is just 24 years old. He's started just 35 total regular-season and playoff games in his NFL career. And yet he's already one strong, victorious performance away from legendary status. 

That's how quickly it can happen. 

The phenomenal Kansas City Chiefs quarterback has played in four playoff games. He's led the team to more than 30 points in all four, with an average of 37.0 per start. He's the only player in league history with more than 10 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in the postseason, and his playoff passer rating of 115.0 is the highest in modern NFL history by a margin of more than 12 points. 

On top of that, he's rushed for 125 yards, two touchdowns and 10 first downs in his two playoff runs. 

Mahomes, who in 2018 was the youngest MVP in modern league history, is already off to the best-ever regular-season start for a quarterback. And if he can maintain his level of play on Super Bowl Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, he'll officially be off to the best-ever playoff start as well. 

The third-year Texas Tech product is favored to become the youngest Super Bowl MVP quarterback of all time, the second-youngest starting signal-caller to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy and the 13th player ever with a resume that contains both a regular-season and Super Bowl MVP award. 

In other words, Mahomes is already on the verge of becoming one of the most accomplished players of all time. 

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

That might seem ridiculous on the surface, but the reality is that with an MVP, a championship ring, a Super Bowl MVP and two Pro Bowl seasons under his belt before 25, Mahomes could spend the rest of his career merely accumulating regular-season stats and would likely still be viewed as a Hall of Famer. 

Just look at the freshly retired Eli Manning. Yours truly made the case for his enshrinement last week, citing big-game success and MVP awards (in Manning's case, two in the Super Bowl). The debate has raged on, but voters and/or experts polled in recent months have favored his eventual induction. There's even an argument Manning could go in on the first ballot

All Manning did outside of his two epic seasons is compile strong raw numbers. His rate-based statistics were never great, he was never an All-Pro or an MVP like Mahomes, and he went to just two more Pro Bowls than Mahomes has, despite starting for the majority of 14 seasons. 

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So while Mahomes probably can't announce his retirement during Sunday night's trophy presentation and find his way into Canton with just 31 regular-season starts on his record, he could spend another decade on autopilot and would still be part of NFL lore with his front-loaded resume. 

In that respect, his NFL biography would, to an extent, resemble that of Kurt Warner, who in his first three seasons as a starter was a two-time regular-season MVP, a Super Bowl MVP and a three-time Pro Bowler. Warner made just one Pro Bowl the rest of his career but is a Hall of Famer nonetheless. 

Of course, that scenario is extremely unlikely in regard to Mahomes. It's much more probable that he continues to add to his legacy with more Pro Bowls, more All-Pro seasons, more Super Bowl runs and more awards for years, even decades to come.

But for now, Mahomes can already become more decorated than Hall of Famers Warren Moon, Dan Fouts and Jim Kelly, none of whom won an MVP award or a Super Bowl. Dan Marino and Fran Tarkenton won MVPs but never a championship. Bob Griese, Sonny Jurgensen and Joe Namath all won a championship but were never MVPs. Troy Aikman, John Elway, Roger Staubach and Moon were never first-team All-Pros. Terry Bradshaw was a Pro Bowler in just three seasons. Fouts and Moon won three playoff games each in their careers (Mahomes can surpass them this weekend). 

All of them are legends, and Mahomes is on the cusp of joining their company to cap his second season as an NFL starter. 

And that's without considering that he's ascending quickly. 

He's the highest-rated passer of all time, by a landslide, among quarterbacks with at least 1,000 attempts. In terms of touchdown-to-interception ratio, only Aaron Rodgers is in his stratosphere. Nobody has thrown more touchdown passes in their first 32 regular-season starts, and nobody holds a candle to him when it comes to touchdown-to-pick ratio or passer rating at the same mark. 

He's already led one of the five largest comebacks in NFL playoff history, and he's guided the Chiefs to three double-digit postseason wins in the last 13 months. And yet he won't turn 25 until next season. 

It's remarkable just how fast Patrick Mahomes has traveled from "future star" to "all-time great." He can complete that journey Sunday in Miami. And what's scary is that it still might just be a scratch on the surface. 


Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter. Or don't. It's entirely your choice.