“His knee didn’t even look like a knee. It was all out of whack. I couldn’t even describe it,” were the words Kansas City Chiefs tight-end Travis Kelce struggled to come up with when asked about the gruesome injury sustained by his team’s star quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
On Thursday night during a game against the Denver Broncos, the reigning-MVP dislocated his right kneecap on a fourth-down, quarterback sneak during the second quarter of the Chiefs 30-6 victory. He left the game and did not return.
Mahomes is transcending to say the least, and as a once-in-a-generation-talent it’s important that the Kansas City organization doesn’t rush him back. The last thing the NFL needs, is for Chiefs head coach Andy Reid to pull a Mike Shanahan (Robert Griffin’s career-altering knee injury) and ruin the league’s most popular, rising young star.
To be completely honest, I have been critical of the media and fans for putting the third-year quarterback up on a pedestal. Don’t get me wrong…Mahomes is an absolutely breathtaking-talent. But the expectation for him to consistently perform at, or exceed the level of play from last season is extremely unrealistic. Besides Patrick, the only other NFL quarterbacks to reach 50 Touchdowns in a season are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Considering the fact the league is celebrating its 100th season, it’s easy to understand the rarity of his accomplishment.
By building Mahomes up to be the greatest thing since the invention of the television, the media is unfairly setting the 24-year-old for an extremely-deep fall from grace in the event his play declines, or he struggles to return to form after rehabbing his current injury.
Right now, it’s a 50/50 shot he comes back as the same quarterback. At the end of the day, knee injuries are serious and can be difficult to rebound from. It’s hard carrying the weight of a franchise on one bum knee, let alone 229 pounds.
Still, there are a few takeaways from Thursday’s game that give Kansas City fans a reason to be optimistic.
Mahomes is tough as hell, both mentally and physically.
According to ESPN, Reid said Mahomes “refused to get in the cart”. The Chiefs coach was referring to the injury buggy designated to cart injured players of the field to be examined by team health-officials. After trainers massaged his dislocated knee-cap back into place, Mahomes limped off the field and towards the locker room with their help, before dragging his leg on his own the rest of the way.
Most guys in the same situation wouldn’t even think of pulling off the gutsy move.
From a mental aspect, Mahomes was unfazed by the injury. This type of setback can weigh heavily on any athlete, let alone a youngster be propped up as the best player in the league. After the game, he displayed positivity on Twitter and during a Chiefs postgame celebration in the locker room. By leading a team cheer and propping out his backup in front of the entire team and media, while his leg is injured and wrapped up like a gordita, it’s import to recognize that Mahomes showcased his innate-ability to impact the team from a motivational standpoint.
Initially, I felt it was necessary for the youngster to win a conference championship or perhaps even a Super Bowl before deserving to be mentioned in the same breath with Russel Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and the G.O.A.T. Tom Brady as an “elite” quarterback in the NFL. After all, you have to have a resume to back up the hype. Being the best isn’t measured by flash or highlights. Instead, that argument is made by consistent-seasonal statistics, wins, and most-importantly Super Bowl rings.
Mahomes is great, but definitely has his work cut out for him to see his face next to the others on the NFL’s current quarterback “Mount Rushmore”.
However, Mahomes is “tough as nails” in mind, body, and spirit. The display of guts and selflessness in his darkest moment as a professional showcases the idea his “balls are made of steel”. It was already glaringly-obvious he has ice water in his veins on the playing field. After witnessing his initial response to the injury, there is no doubt in my mind he will bounce back from the injury.
Pat Mahomes is a bad-ass, and has managed to earn my respect.
Header Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated