What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force? Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, we will find out.
Every generation of sports has its own superstars, and my generation knows that all too well. While our highlight reels and timelines are filled with players like LeBron James, and of course Patrick Mahomes, we still can’t help but be told about the greatness of past legends like Michael Jordan, and Joe Montana.
There is no real way of telling how players like this would matchup, but it makes for great day time television, and the debates over who is better have kept some of these “analysts” in business for over a decade now. Rarely do the greats of each generation get to meet and play, and it happens even less frequently in a player’s prime, or is not generally in a big game situation.
Think back to the early 2000s when an old Michael Jordan played against a young and rising Kobe Bryant, most memorably in an All Star game. This is about as close as we have seen generations colliding in the world of sports, until we got to see Patrick Mahomes square off with Tom Brady in 2018.
By the time the 2018 NFL season had rolled around Tom Brady was the immovable force of the NFL for nearly two decades, with five Super Bowl rings, three MVP’s, and four Super Bowl MVP’s, the game had never seen a player like him. He was the biggest name in sports, and was without question going to go down as the greatest player of all time, and it didn’t seem there would be much debate.
That was until Patrick Mahomes lit the NFL on fire in 2018, shattering numbers and beginning what would be a historic start to an NFL career.
With 50 touchdowns and over 5,000 yards passing, he torched his way into the record books, won the MVP in a landslide and delivered the Chiefs their first playoff win at Arrowhead Stadium for a lifetime of fans, myself included, who could not quite believe what we were witnessing. Suddenly, the Chiefs that we were so used to letting us down year after year were competing, and come late January they were going to host the AFC Championship game vs none other than Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Much like their first matchup of that season for as great as Mahomes looked, the Patriots and Brady had answered the whole game, and it wound up being an overtime victory for Brady, as he increased his head to head matchup on Mahomes to 2-0, even if it was decided by mere inches.
Mahomes would not see the ball in overtime, but the loss lead to the 2019-2020 season for Kansas City in which they won Super Bowl 54, their first championship in 50 years. They were able to beat Brady and the Patriots in a game that would lead to KC winning the second seed in the playoffs, which would end up giving them a home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Brady and the Patriots would fall in the Wildcard game to the Tennessee Titans, which would be Brady’s last in a Patriots uniform. Brady had not looked great to end the season, and it appeared as though his age had caught up to him. Many speculated whether or not he would retire, since it was clear he was out of his prime by a couple of years at that point. However, Brady would shock the sports world by heading to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brady rejuvinated his career throwing for 40 touchdowns in Bruce Ariens high powered offense, and for the fist time in years has had weapons with wide outs Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and his old friend Rob Gronkowski.
Brady still isn’t close to being in his prime, but with a great supporting cast and aggressive coaching, he helped the Bucs go on a run in the playoffs and win their first NFC title in over 20 years sending Brady to his ninth Super Bowl.
While all this was going on the Kansas City Chiefs were dismantling their competition, due in large part to Patrick Mahomes continuing his historic pace, throwing for 38 touchdowns and 4,740 yards in just 15 games played. It was also in Tampa Bay earlier this year that Mahomes put on a show like few have ever been able to do in a football game ever.
Mahomes exploded for 462 passing yards and three touchdowns in the 27-24 win, which would tie Brady and Mahomes at 2-2 each in their head to head matchups. Brady would rally the Bucs late, but turnovers and poor first half performance would cost Brady and the Bucs dearly. The game was essentially not as close as the score would indicate.
It seemed that could be the final matchup, but now the top talents of two different generations are about to square off on the biggest stage in all of sports. This is the matchup that many generational icons have never gotten to play in, but it is fitting that in the pots they are in for their respective careers that these two would get to face off now.
Tom Brady’s legacy seems unshakeable at this point, as he is the most accomplished football player of all time and will always be considered by many to be the greatest player of all time. Win or lose what he has done in his career is remarkable. He is no longer in his prime and his team are the underdogs for this rubber match with Mahomes so why would this game matter much at all to him?
Because Tom Brady knows that if he loses this game then Patrick Mahomes will have opened the flood gates for unprecented success in the sports world. Not unprecedented for football, but for all of sports. A league MVP, Super Bowl, and Super Bowl MVP all before the age of 25, as well as being on pace to SHATTER every major passing record in the game.
Mahomes is also building his legacy as a winner, with just one loss in his last 25 games, and with a six and one record in the playoffs, his only loss coming to Tom Brady and the Patriots. With a second consecutive trip Mahomes and the Chiefs have a chance to something that hasn’t been done since Tom Brady’s early days with the Patriots. So why does this all mean so much to Mahomes?
Not many people have their legacies defined before the age of 30, but at 25 years old that is certainly the case Mahomes has put himself in. It has been his super human performance and his meteoric rise to fame that has lead to this but this game will mean everything to him when it comes to greatest of all time conversations. Seven Super Bowls for Brady would put him in a class of his own, but a head to head win over Brady and back to back wins would open the door for a Kansas City dynasty.
This could also be the last game of Brady’s career, though it seems unlikely, but it is more likely going to be the last time these two ever get a chance to play one another. Each quarterback has the utmost respect for one another, but even in interviews this week the competitive fire was stoked. Mahomes was quoted saying “Brady is one of the best if not the best quarterback ever”, with Brady saying he “Thinks (Mahomes) thinks he can make any throw”.
They both know the magnitude of this matchup, and how it will shape the next generations of the game. Brady has been the established face of the league for a long time now even when it feels like Mahomes has dethroned him as the Super Bowl draws closer it some aspects it still seems like it’s Brady’s league, and in some respects it is.
He has beaten the old guard of Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Drew Breese. He has beaten Russel Wilson and Aaron Rodgers, as well as newcomers Josh Allen, and Deshaun Watson. All great opponents, all worthy challengers, but he was able to conquer them all.
But none of them are Patrick Mahomes.