The would-be future face — and mind-boggling right arm — of the Chiefs arrived Friday in Kansas City.
But in the moment, it was all about the past that led to the franchise making Patrick Mahomes II the 10th overall pick in the NFL Draft.
For starters, well …
“Honestly, he came out of the womb throwing the ball,” said his father Pat Mahomes, a big-league pitcher for 11 seasons.
He basically hasn’t stopped since, whether throwing for 5,052 yards and 41 touchdowns last season for Texas Tech … or recently flopped on his back in his mother’s living room in Texas tossing a ball off the TV.
“It’s, like, nonstop,” said his mother, Randi Mahomes.
As an infant, Mahomes would fling anything that so much as resembled a ball, typically forcing even his half-asleep parents to throw it back again and again and again.
Albeit for a regrettable reason, he had some clarity about his accompanying gift by the time he was about 5.
Playing shortstop in a T-ball game with kids a few years older, Mahomes fielded a ball, zinged it across the diamond … and crunched the face of the poor first baseman.
The boy’s glasses were shattered, Mahomes recalled Friday, and his nose may or may not have been broken.
“I kind of had to slow it down,” Mahomes said.
All these years later, and you might say that tale still illustrates the crux of what’s at hand now to realize his immense potential.
Refining his touch, including elements of his game from footwork, to discretion with the ball, to command of Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s exhaustive play-calling verbiage, now is officially a program in the making.
The fine-tuning of Mahomes will be crucial to the presumed transition from Alex Smith to him in the next year or two — and thus the very direction of the Chiefs organization.
That’s a lot in the balance.
But general manager John Dorsey has earned major credibility and benefit of the doubt with his draft track record.
And it’s a process that the Chiefs are well-poised to engineer, and one that Mahomes is eager to embrace and projects to have an aptitude for.
As large as his arm looms, he’s much more than a mere appendage — which, for that matter, does not in itself a quarterback make.
“There are a lot of guys who can throw the ball hard and far,” Reid said. “He just happens to have a good arm. And that’s OK.”
Reid overstated (or was it understated?) the point with a straight face, but that doesn’t diminish his broader case:
The arm is meaningless without everything else.
All of which ought to comes to pass.
For one thing, Reid is a noted quarterback guru who earned praise from Brett Favre with the Packers despite Favre’s initial skepticism, and molded talents Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick into his system.
“That’s what you do as a coach: We’re supposed to take these guys and teach them,” Reid said Thursday night.
Then there’s the luxury for all of having Smith, a proven winner and dedicated teammate who already had reached out to Mahomes by Friday afternoon.
That dynamic between them for what sets up as a redshirt season for Mahomes will feature the fascinating added dimension of Smith’s risk-averse game being the example for Mahomes’ swashbuckling style.
“I always thought this was the best scenario for him,” Mahomes’ father said, adding that there is a benefit to learning “from a veteran guy who does it pretty much the opposite way he does it (with the short game).
“So if he can hone that part of the game down, we know he can do the other part.”
So there’s the fundamental structure that will fall on Mahomes to activate.
For all the fussing and fretting about the past fates of system quarterbacks, there’s ample reason to think he’ll take full advantage and ultimately be able to thrive.
Mahomes is his own unique case, forged by exposure to his father’s pro career and the work ethic it took, a bright student who had a 4.0 in high school and was the 2016 Big 12 football scholar-athlete of the year and had full control of the offense at Tech.
He also lives for the game, something he ultimately chose over baseball and that Dorsey values as an indicator of promise and commitment.
In Mahomes’ case, his passion for the game was a relief to his mother, who long had worried about how he never seemed to truly get excited about much.
Even baseball came to bore him, his father said, because it was too easy for him.
But once he hit his stride in football as a junior in high school, it consumed him.
“This is the complete truth: Football has made him excited, and it’s tear-jerking to see,” Randi Mahomes said.
Along those lines, she has impressed upon him to treasure that and thank God for his blessings because you have “a better chance of winning the lottery than being an NFL quarterback.”
Now, it’s all about the Chiefs hitting the lottery with this — even if it will be one refining step at a time with a young man who will be defined by much more than the arm that sets him apart.