Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu is as fiery of a competitor as they come, so when paired up against Tom Brady — possibly the most competitive athlete in recent memory — on sports’ biggest stage, things understandably got chippy during Sunday’s 31-9 Super Bowl loss.
Brady and Mathieu were seen going at it for much of the night. However, things came to a head just before halftime after the Bucs extended their lead to 21-6 following a pair of questionable defensive pass interference calls, the latter on Mathieu to set up Tampa Bay on the goal line.
After Mathieu was beaten by Antonio Brown for the late second-quarter touchdown, both Mathieu and Brady got caught up in a shuffle of players before the Chiefs captain appeared to get in the face of the 43-year-old icon.
Immediately following, Brady chased down “The Landlord” to say his piece. The result? A 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Mathieu, rather than the offsetting penalties many onlookers were calling for. After the play, the visibly irate 28-year-old was also seen in an animated conversation with Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
In a since-deleted tweet captured by Mass Live’s Chris Mason after the game on Sunday night, Mathieu revealed that now-seven-time Super Bowl champion “called me something I won’t repeat.”
Mathieu Praised Brady in Week Leading up to Super Bowl
On the topic of showing grace toward Brady in interviews, Mathieu stands correct. Take, for instance, just one of the more recent examples shared by USA Today’s Nate Davis from Mathieu’s media availability last week:
I think most people, when you look at [Brady], say to themselves that he’s not this great athlete at quarterback. But I think one of the things that separates him is really his competitive edge. … He has fire in his eye, he always feels like he has a chance to win the game for his team.
We gotta be ready to play four quarters with Tom Brady – even beyond. That competitive edge, that drive that he has to still be great, 20 years and multiple Super Bowls later, I’d probably say he’s different than any other athlete I’ve seen. Most guys win, and they get comfortable. Most guys win, and they showboat. Tom Brady seems to win and then go back to work.
Overall, the three-time All-Pro finished the game with only three combined tackles and had an instinctive interception negated by a Charvarius Ward defensive holding penalty on the Bucs’ first touchdown drive of the second quarter. It was a sour ending to a dominant 2020 season that featured a career-best six regular season interceptions for Mathieu.
Mathieu: ‘I Never Really Saw That Side of Tom Brady’
During his postgame press conference, Mathieu was asked directly about the skirmish but didn’t offer much in the way of details.
“I thought I played as hard as I can today,” Mathieu told reporters, via NESN’s Zack Cox. “Listen, Tom Brady’s a great quarterback. I never really saw that side of Tom Brady, to be honest. But whatever. No comment. It’s over with. I’m done with it.”
On the other sideline, Tampa Bay appeared to be juiced up by Brady’s willingness to mix it up with his opponents, Mathieu especially. Just ask Bucs WR Mike Evans.
Tampa’s standout second-year linebacker Devin White also appeared to troll Mathieu’s “Landlord” mantra in a postgame tweet.
Brady, who was named Super Bowl MVP for his clean 201-yard, three-touchdown performance, has not yet addressed Mathieu’s claim publically and it remains unlikely we get his side of the story any time soon. It is likely, though, that we see the 21-year veteran back in a Bucs uniform in 2021, setting up a chance at redemption for a Kansas City squad set to retain most of its core players.
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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!