With the Kansas City Chiefs now set to meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV on February 7, storylines run deep in a high-stakes game featuring megastars Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady.
Perhaps most notably, this year’s championship bout will be the first-ever Super Bowl between the last two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. While Mahomes is also set to become the youngest signal-caller in NFL history to start in two Super Bowls, the 25-year-old is embracing the challenge ahead of him with some help from one of history’s most fierce competitors.
On Sunday, he paid tribute to the late Kobe Bryant — who died in a tragic helicopter crash one year ago today, January 26 — in a subtle, but powerful way.
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Mahomes’ Kobe-Inspired Message to Chiefs Kingdom
Following Kansas City’s second straight AFC Championship win on Sunday, a 38-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills, Mahomes worked in a “job’s not finished” reference during his on-field interview with CBS Sports reporter Tracy Wolfson.
While not immediately recognizable to some casual fans, the line was in reference to an iconic postgame response by Bryant after being asked why he didn’t appear happy despite holding a 2-0 lead in the 2009 NBA Finals.
The Chiefs’ MVP was later asked about the comment during his postgame press conference. His answer did not disappoint.
“Kobe [Bryant] has one of the best mentalities of all time as far as [being] a competitor, going out there and winning championships, not just games,” Mahomes said on Sunday, via Aaron Ladd of 41 Action News in Kansas City. “I take a lot from that of going out there every single day and not being satisfied with where you’re at.
“Like I said, the job’s not finished. When we went into the season weren’t talking about going to the Super Bowl. We were talking about winning it again. We’re trying to run it back and we mean that. I’m excited for the opportunity to go out there and play against a great football team and try to do that.”
Mahomes shared a similar sentiment toward the basketball legend following last year’s AFC Championship victory, via FOX 4 Kansas City’s Harold Kuntz.
With a win on Super Bowl Sunday, the Chiefs would become the first team since the Brady-led New England Patriots in 2003-04 to win back-to-back Lombardi Trophies. Something Bryant, a five-time champion in his own right, accomplished for the second time in 2009-10.
Fans Resurfacing Tyreek Hill’s ‘Chasing Jordan’ Exchange With Tom Brady
After winning its first Super Bowl title in 50 years last February, the Chiefs’ #RunItBack mantra was officially born. The movement went into hyperdrive this past offseason as Kansas City locked up Mahomes, TE Travis Kelce and DT Chris Jones to long-term contract extensions. Just days after inking his $85 million deal, Jones spoke of bringing “five-plus rings to Kansas City” in an interview with 610 Sports Radio.
Not to be outdone, Chiefs speedster Tyreek Hill upped the ante when asked about the idea during a July 23 appearance on ESPN’s First Take.
“Why say five? Why not go seven rings? Right now we’re just chasing [Michael] Jordan, so that’s what we do,” Hill said at the time. “So I’m going over five, and I’m saying seven.”
Like Jordan, the man standing in the way of the Chiefs’ chance to repeat is a six-time champion of his sport. Upon catching wind of Hill’s comments last offseason, the first-year Buccaneer chimed in with a cheeky response — one that has now become reality for the 43-year-old Brady chasing his seventh title in 10 trips to the big game.
As only Twitter can do, a number of football fans who managed to dig up the six-month-old exchange have already begun to read the tea leaves.
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!