Patrick Mahomes Can Stake His Claim in Canton With Super Bowl LVII Victory
You might already think that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a lead-pipe lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
If you don’t, you might have a hard time arguing that point if he and the Chiefs win Super Bowl LVII on Sunday.
You see, if Mahomes leads the Chiefs to a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, he will become the 13th quarterback in NFL history to win at least two Super Bowls as a starter.
That puts Mahomes in rare company, the kind of company that tends to end up in the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
I went back and collected the names of the other 12 quarterbacks. Seven of them are already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That includes Bart Starr, Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, and John Elway.
Four of them are not in the Hall yet because they’re not eligible. But you’re telling me that Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger won’t be in there one day? Based on this standard, they should be locks.
So who is the 12th? Glad you asked. That would be Jim Plunkett. And comparing Plunkett to Mahomes is an awfully interesting exercise in looking at the different eras of pro football.
Plunkett led the Raiders to two Super Bowls victories during his career. Before he got to the Raiders, however, he was a former Heisman Trophy-winning No. 1 overall pick who in seven seasons in New England and San Francisco never fulfilled expectations.
When the Raiders acquired him in 1978, he was expected to be a backup. He threw 15 passes in 1978 and 1979 before he took over the starter in 1980 after a Week 5 injury to starter Dan Pastorini. Oddly, that game was against Kansas City.
He led the Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XV over Philadelphia (again, how odd) and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Three seasons later, history repeated itself as Plunkett had lost the starting job, took it over after an injury to Marc Wilson and led the Raiders to a second title.
Plunkett played 15 years. He threw for 25,882 yards, 164 touchdowns and 198 interceptions. While he was the 1971 Rookie of the Year with New England, he never won an NFL MVP award. He was never an All-Pro or Pro Bowl selection.
Comparing Plunkett and Mahomes honestly seems unfair. Plunkett started all 14 games his rookie season. Mahomes sat behind Alex Smith in his rookie season, aside from one start.
So Mahomes is a six-year veteran but has really only played five years. Mahomes has already thrown for nearly as many yards as Plunkett. Absurd but true.
Mahomes has thrown for 24,241 yards in his six-year career. Mahomes’ 192 touchdown passes is already more than Plunkett. And Mahomes has thrown just 49 interceptions.
If you’re looking at awards, Mahomes just named the NFL’s MVP for the second time in his career. In doing so, Mahomes joined Joe Montana, Kurt Warner, and Steve Young as the only two-time winners of the award. He now trails Tom Brady, Jim Brown, Brett Favre, and Johnny Unitas as players to win the award three times while Aaron Rodgers (4) and Peyton Manning (5) are in a league of their own.
Mahomes is a three-time All-Pro (two first-team selections). He’s a five-time Pro Bowl selection. He’s already led the NFL in passing yards once and touchdown passes twice.
Without the Super Bowl, Mahomes is already off to an impressive start. Throw in the Super Bowl he already has and he’s on the precipice of a glide path to Canton.
Yes, it’s dangerous to compare eras. I spent last weeked with my dad, celebrating his 84th birthday. We watched a lot of old NFL Films presentations on early Super Bowls, especially in the 1970s. Football was much different back then. Quarterbacks didn’t throw as much as they do now. Quarterbacks were hit exponentially harder and more often then. I can’t tell you how many hits I saw quarterbacks take in those retrospectives that are no longer allowed.
But football evolves and changes just like any other sport, and within this particular era Mahomes is one of a handful of quarterbacks that leads this generation. Some say he’s already the best.
If the Chiefs win, Mahomes will be a part of that rare club of quarterbacks. It’s a meaningful accomplishment, no matter the era.
It’s strange to look at the list and see a player like Plunkett left out. It’s especially strange when you consider that Plunkett has more career passing yards than three of them — Griese, Staubach, and Starr.
But, again, eras.
As far as I’m concerned, a win Sunday punches Mahomes’ ticket for Canton, whether he plays two more years or 10 more years. That’s how it looks on paper.
That’s how it looks in reality.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard