Patrick Mahomes was 6 years old when Tom Brady earned his first Super Bowl victory. But Mahomes joked that his first recollection of Brady dates to several years before that.
"It’s probably Sept. 17, 1995, when I was born," Mahomes said this past week. "He’s been around for a while."
Brady is 43 and about to play in his 10th Super Bowl. Standing in the way of his seventh Super Bowl championship is the 25-year-old Mahomes.
They’ll be the faces of Super Bowl LV when Kansas City tries to win a second straight title by beating Tampa Bay in Brady’s first season leading the Buccaneers. But dueling in big games is nothing new for these two even though Mahomes has been a starting quarterback for only the last three years.
The two squared off in the AFC Championship Game two years ago, when the Brady mystique beat out Mahomes’ magic in an overtime thriller.
Brady led the Patriots to a 37-31 win in Kansas City and then to a Super Bowl victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Before leaving Arrowhead Stadium that frigid January Sunday in 2019, Brady made his way into the Kansas City locker room and had a private conversation with Mahomes, offering words of encouragement and advice.
"Well, I would say it was unique," Kansas City coach Andy Reid said. "I mean, he didn’t have to do that. He is arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game and he surely didn’t have to come over and say a word. But he did that, and I think for a young quarterback to have somebody of his stature do that, I think was a tremendous gesture and it was heartfelt.
"He didn’t have to do it and he wasn’t putting on a show. There was nobody there to really see it, so it was really just his respect for Pat and in return, Pat’s respect for him."
Mahomes definitely appreciated Brady’s gesture. It took some of the sting away from losing in his first AFC Championship Game, certainly not all of it. It also motivated Mahomes and made him hungry to get back there and win it, which he has the past two years.
"It kind of just re-emphasized that I was doing things the right way, that I was putting in the right work and that I would have more opportunities to be in these games," Mahomes said. "I’ve been lucky enough to be in two more of them since and win both of those. So to get to go up against the great [Brady] and a great football team as well, I’m excited for the opportunity."
No, Brady doesn’t get credit for Mahomes’ first Super Bowl victory. But his words had an impact.
"The biggest thing Tom said to me was just to stay with the process and keep being who I am," Mahomes said. "That’s something that’s important. As a guy who’s had so much success every year he’s been in the NFL, he goes out there every single day and treats it like it’s the most important day. That’s something that I’ll try to do for my entire career."
Mahomes has been nothing short of brilliant since becoming Kansas City’s starting quarterback in 2018. He was the NFL MVP that season and the Super Bowl MVP last year, and he has many believing Kansas City will be Title Town the way New England was before Brady left for Tampa last offseason.
Kansas City is 44-9, playoffs included, in games Mahomes has started. They’re 30-4 since the loss to Brady and the Patriots in the AFC title game.
This season, Kansas City went 14-1 when Mahomes started. The one defeat was an eight-point loss to the Raiders in Week 5. Kansas City has won 11 straight games with Mahomes under center, including the playoffs. He’s thrown four touchdown passes and no interceptions this offseason.
But now all that matters is what Mahomes does against Brady in the Super Bowl. This is "a legacy game," according to former Cowboys quarterback and current CBS analyst Tony Romo.
Eli Manning and Nick Foles are the only two quarterbacks to beat Brady in the biggest game of all. Mahomes hopes to join that list next Sunday.
"It’s going to be a great experience for me," he said. "To go out there and get to have a chance to repeat and get to do it against the best, I mean, it’s something special and I’m excited for the opportunity."