Can Patrick Mahomes Surpass Tom Brady With A Third Super Bowl Ring?
On Sunday, Patrick Mahomes looks to win his third Super Bowl in four appearances. For a quarterback who has only played six full seasons in the NFL, the level of success that Mahomes has achieved is nearly unprecedented. However, while Mahomes prepares for the 49ers, there is a much bigger that people are beginning to ask. Does this make Mahomes the true rival to Tom Brady's GOAT status?
Ring No. 3 For Mahomes Fends Off The Brady Faithful
Purely from a numbers standpoint, Mahomes needs to win on Sunday to keep pace with Brady. Brady was a three-time Super Bowl champion by the end of his sixth full season in the league. Brady had captured the Lombardi in his first full year as the Patriots starter. He then went on to capture back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004. Mahomes won it all in his second year as a starter before capturing the title again in 2023. However, the problem is that the Brady faithful are hungry and eager to see Mahomes fail. If he can't top the Niners in Vegas, he will be branded a pagh-wraith by those who wish for an end to the tyranny of the Patriots' legacy. No matter what Mahomes goes on to achieve after, the Patriots' "True Way" would be upheld forever more.
Furthermore, the "bad ending" in which Mahomes doesn't match Brady's three rings in six years would also suck based purely on what Mahomes has already achieved. He is a two-time MVP, something Brady would not achieve until his 10th full season in the league. Furthermore, Mahomes has started his career hotter than Brady. The Chiefs star threw over 5000 yards in his first full season, a mark Brady wouldn't surpass until his 11th. As a result, Mahomes has already thrown 31% of Brady's career passing yards and 33% of his career passing touchdowns after just six seasons.
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Mahomes & The Chiefs Need Forward Momentum To Truly Surpass Brady
However, there is something more important to Mahomes' quest to dethrone Brady than simply matching the number of Super Bowls. After 2004, it would be a full decade until Brady lifted the Lombardi again. Of course, there was the 16-0 season and two Super Bowl losses to Eli Manning but Brady still went a decade without a ring. Mahomes doesn't have to lead the Chiefs to the league's first-ever three-peat. However, he does need to ensure that the team stays at the top of the league and grabs another Lombardi sooner rather than later.
But that in itself leads to some difficult questions about the future. In the Chiefs' tight-end heavy system, what of Travis Kelce? How long can the 34-year-old play at a championship caliber? When do the Chiefs draft turn Mahomes into the mentor and pair with his new long-term battery mate at tight end? And beyond that, how do the Chiefs ensure they keep winning? A big reason for the Patriots' drought was that other teams around the league stepped up to meet them head-on. Jim Harbaugh now coaches in the Chiefs division. If Mahomes wants to replace Brady as the synonym for success, the Chiefs need to find a way to create a network of long-term winning.
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Does It Really Matter?
There is other one question to consider when discussing Mahomes v. Brady - how much does it actually matter? Mahomes does not play to surpass Tom Brady, he has said as much himself. "My career goals have always been the same and it's to not have any regrets. No matter what I do, I'm going to give everything I have to the game. I'm going to work my tail off, working out, in the film room, whatever that is, and give everything I have to the game. Whatever that ends up with, how many Super Bowl rings that is, however many wins that is, whatever that is, I know that I gave everything I have and that's what I can do," Mahomes told reporters this week.
The GOAT debate has always been something for the fans and egotists. Players who call themselves the "greatest of all time" rarely are. Patrick Mahomes will, in all likelihood, have one of the greatest careers in NFL history But he clearly isn't playing to be the GOAT. Players that do play this way often achieve their goal at a heavy price - first on the stat sheet but with a legacy of infamy. Instead, Mahomes is Percival, the knight able to touch the Holy Grail because he does not desire it for himself. And in a world where we complain that sports have become increasingly about the glory, should we celebrate an authentic love of the game when it presents itself?
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