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Patrick Mahomes’ opportunity for football immortality in Super Bowl LVII

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes just earned his second career NFL MVP award. Much like what we’ve seen from the generational player and his Chiefs, it was a lopsided affair with pretty much everyone knowing the results beforehand.

Mahomes earning the league’s top individual award came mere days before he’s set to lead Kansas City into Super Bowl LVII against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday afternoon.

The former first-round pick from Texas Tech continues to defy logic with his performance thus far in his career. We’re talking about a signal caller who has led Kansas City to five AFC Championship Game appearances in as many seasons as a starter. This will represent his third Super Bowl start, something that very few quarterbacks before him can lay claim to.

We’re done talking about Mahomes as one of the most-talented young quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s transcended that. He now has a shot at football immortality in front of hundreds of millions tuning in on television and the tens of thousands set to take to their seats inside State Farm Stadium in Arizona.

Heck, Mahomes already compares to some of modern football’s best quarterbacks through his first five seasons as a starting quarterback.

Related: Patrick Mahomes vs Jalen Hurts, Super Bowl LVII comparison

Patrick Mahomes compared to other modern greats

patrick mahomes, tom brady
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Of the four other quarterbacks listed below, one is a first ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer. The other three will join him in short order. Meanwhile, Mahomes is sitting pretty among the best to ever do it at the young age of 27. It’s insane to look at.

PlayerRecordComp%YardsTotal TDINTQB rating
Patrick Mahomes63-1666.423,95720448106.0
Tom Brady58-2061.918,0291266688.5
Peyton Manning42-3862.120,61814710085.9
Drew Brees40-3462.816,5451096487.5
Aaron Rodgers52-2565.921,33218845105.6
First five full seasons as a starter

Statistically, only Rodgers compares to what Mahomes has done through his first five seasons as a starter in the NFL.

The other four signal callers had some struggles to open their careers. Tom Brady threw just 18 touchdowns against 12 interceptions in his first season as a starter despite leading the New England Patriots to a surprising Super Bowl win over a heavily-favored St. Louis Rams team.

A generational talent coming out of Tennessee back in 1998, Peyton Manning was the first pick of the Indianapolis Colts that year. A quarter-century after the fact, most would be surprised to learn that Manning led the NFL with 28 interceptions as a rookie.

Right there with Brady among the best statistical quaterbacks in league history, Brees threw 28 touchdowns against 31 interceptions in his first two seasons as the then-San Diego Chargers’ starter. In fact, San Diego opted for Philip Rivers as its franchise quarterback — letting Brees walk to the New Orleans Saints during the 2006 NFL free-agent cycle.

Of these other four, only Rodgers compares statistically to what Mahomes has done through five seasons as a starter. He took over for Brett Favre as Green Bay’s QB1 in his fourth season. Within a few years, Rodgers would earn his first of four NFL MVP awards.

Related: Patrick Mahomes and the top Super Bowl LVII MVP odds

Patrick Mahomes vs the old-timers

patrick mahomes against the all-time greats
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s completely unfair to compare previous eras to what we’re seeing today. The likes of Joe Montana, John Elway, Brett Favre and Dan Marino did not have the benefit of NFL rules that favor quarterbacks.

They played at a time in the league in which cornerbacks could re-route receivers and roughing the passer calls were non-existent. Even then, it wouldn’t be right to conclude that Mahomes is on the verge of becoming one of the greatest without focusing on what these old-timers did.

PlayerRecordComp%YardsTotal TDINTQB rating
Joe Montana42-2163.815,5131145492.8
John Elway46-21-154.114,835927774.1
Brett Favre50-2762.018,7241567789.1
Dan Marino48-2160.619,4221718094.1
First five seasons as NFL starters

It’s not even up for debate. In comparison to the seven greatest quarterbacks in the post-1970s era, Mahomes has put up the best numbers of the group. Clear across the board with the exception of Aaron Rodgers throwing three fewer interceptions.

As noted above, it’s not fair to compare eras. That’s why we didn’t include other all-time greats in that of Johnny Unitas, Otto Graham, Roger Staubach, Sammy Baugh, Bart Starr and Sid Luckman above.

Of those six Pro Football Hall of Famers, Baugh (41 TD, 63 INT) and Starr (37 TD, 53 INT) actually had more interceptions than touchdowns in their first five seasons as starters.

Related: Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes talks injury and making Super Bowl history

Unparalleled team-wide success for Patrick Mahomes

patrick mahomes, andy reid, super bowl
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, Mahomes will become the 13th quarterback in NFL history to have started three Super Bowls. That group is obviously headed by the recently-retired Tom Brady (10 starts, seven wins).

Mahomes will join the likes of Troy Aikman, Bob Griese, Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner and Fran Tarkenton to start three Super Bowls. Of that group, only Big Ben is not in Canton (he’s not eligible until 2027).

At 27 years old, Mahomes will become the youngest quarterback in NFL history to start three Super Bowls. He’ll join only Tom Brady as the only signal callers to start three in their first six seasons. Despite this, the moment is not getting to Kansas City’s franchise guy.

“I don’t feel the pressure. I feel the pressure of proving my teammates right every day, being the man that I try to set the example to be, and that’s coming to work every day and giving everything I have.

If I do that the rest of this week and in the game, I believe we will come out with a win. And if we don’t, I will know that I gave everything I had to come out with a win and that’s what I can always live with.”

Patrick Mahomes on preparing for Super Bowl LVII

For good reason. When comparing to quarterbacks who have won at a high rate during their careers, Mahomes is among the best to ever do it.

Before Brady did his thing in New England, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana were considered the gold standard for hoisting Lombardi’s. Boasting a 4-0 Super Bowl record throughout his legendary career, Bradshaw did not earn a third appearance in the big game until his ninth season as Pittsburgh’s starter.

A third-round pick out of Notre Dame back in 1979, Montana took over a fledgling San Francisco 49ers franchise and turned it into a dynasty. However, the Hall of Famer didn’t earn a second Super Bowl appearnace until his sixth season in Northern California.

Outside Brady, we have to go back to the pre-Super Bowl era to find a quarterback with as much early-career success as Patrick Mahomes.

Chicago Bears all-time great Sid Luckman won three NFL titles in his first five seasons as a starter. He likely would have won more of it wasn’t for a commitment to serve in World War II.

patrick mahomes vs otto graham
David Boss-USA TODAY Sports

Also having served in World War II, Otto Graham was drafted by the NFL’s Detroit Lions in 1943. He never signed with the team, opting to play for the Cleveland Browns in the old All-America Football Conference in 1946. He led Cleveland to four consecutive titles in that league before it went defunct.

What’s the moral of this story? We’re comparing Patrick Mahomes’ early-career success to two players in Luckman and Graham who were born less than a half of century after the American Civil War ended. In fact, Woodrow Wilson was the United States President when the two were born.

Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts are making history as the first pair of Black quarterbacks to start a Super Bowl. It’s a major storyline, one that speaks to the progression American society has made since these two aforementioned quarterbacks were doing their thing.

But from an on-field standpoint, Mahomes himself is looking to make history. He is attempting to already etch his name in stone as one of the greatest to do it. At 27 years old, that’s some unbelievable stuff. And it should be one of our focuses ahead of Super Bowl LVII kicking off on Sunday.

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