All Clyde Edwards-Helaire does is win.
He went from being the lead back on LSU’s undefeated national championship team as a junior to playing in Sunday’s Super Bowl as a rookie.
Edwards-Helaire also had Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes on his side before they ever played together.
General manager Brett Veach texted Mahomes a few minutes before it was time for Kansas City to make its first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and asked him to give him a name. Mahomes texted back Edwards-Helaire, and Veach took him.
"Once the word got around that Pat hit up Veach and texted him back that he wanted me, that made me feel like this is the organization I’m going to do whatever in my power, whatever I can do to make it happen," Edwards-Helaire said. "Just knowing Pat and knowing how long Pat’s going to be around, him wanting to have me around for this was the biggest plus and the biggest reason for me to feel like I was at home."
He filled a much-needed void for Kansas City. Running back Damien Williams, who scored two touchdowns in last year’s Super Bowl victory, opted out of this season because of COVID-19 concerns. Edwards-Helaire stepped in and became Kansas City’s featured back.
He made an immediate impact, rushing for 138 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. He ran for 803 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games, but he was inconsistent after his fast start.
Edwards-Helaire suffered hip and ankle injuries late in the season and was forced to miss the last two regular-season games and the divisional round of the playoffs. He rushed six times for only seven yards in the AFC Championship Game against Buffalo but scored a touchdown.
Now Edwards-Helaire is healthy and ready to handle a bigger workload against Tampa Bay on Sunday. He’s looking to add a Super Bowl title to his resume 13 months after winning the national championship.
"I can tell you my happiness doesn’t come from my record," he said. "I don’t feel like those are the things I’ll be remembered for. Anybody who knows me knows I’m a big game-to-game person. Just talking wins, I know it’s important and it’s the ultimate goal that we try to get. But just trying to be better than I was the previous game, no matter what it is, is that win and that happiness for me."
When Edwards-Helaire was hurt, Kansas City turned to Le’Veon Bell and Darrel Williams in the backfield. When Edwards-Helaire was a freshman at LSU, Williams was a senior. He helped his younger teammate then and is still doing it.
"When he came to LSU, I showed him the ins and outs and how to approach the game," Williams said. "And just being able to have that same opportunity in the NFL, be able to play with him and show him the ins and outs of the NFL, it means a lot because that’s somebody that’s like a younger brother to me.
"I just hope for the most success for him, and he’s making the most of his opportunity."
Williams could have a big role on Sunday as well. He’s played his best football in this postseason, rushing for 130 yards and a touchdown in two games after totaling 169 yards on the ground during the regular season.
Like Edwards-Helaire, Williams will be making his first Super Bowl appearance and is looking to make the most of it. He was injured last year and couldn’t play.
"I missed an opportunity and I felt like I failed myself and I failed my team," he said. "This year I wanted to have that chance to actually be in the game. It’s exciting because not too many people get a chance to play in the Super Bowl."