Kansas City was turned into one big hospital waiting room Friday, after a disturbing injury to Chiefs MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ knee in Thursday night’s game. Suddenly the most anticipated Chiefs season in memory yielded to the area’s most anticipated MRI.
That MRI, taken Friday afternoon, was expected to be followed by a second opinion, but Mahomes could be back in three or four weeks, The Star reported.
To the non-fan, it might seem much ado about very little. It’s just a game, after all.
True enough, as far as it goes. But one needs to look far beyond that to comprehend the full impact and angst of seeing perhaps the city’s most beloved figure, and one of the most acclaimed athletes of his generation, cut down.
It’s a reminder not just that Mahomes is human, despite his superhuman skills, but also of his outsized importance to the community.
He’s grown Kansas City on the map. Mahomes attracts more national attention for games here and in television ads. He’s a one-man marketing blitz a Chamber of Commerce couldn’t buy.
More important is the civic pride and unity such a figure engenders. Kansas City kids are wearing Mahomes jerseys before they even know what a jersey is. Or a Mahomes for that matter. What else but a city’s sports team brings 80,000 people to a stadium in color-coordinated gear, and hundreds of thousands of others in front of televisions, all to push and cajole and cheer their team over the goal line? And have you tried grocery shopping in the hours before a game? Get in line.
Football brings us together in divided times
What else unifies both metropolis and hamlet so? When was the last time you high-fived someone on the street over the latest victory of the City Council or local utility board?
Surely in this age of bloody political division on the national level, common cause here in Kansas City can’t be considered as inconsequential as a game. In 2019, headed into a combative 2020, we need to recognize, appreciate and encourage anything that brings us together.
All the more reason, too, for the kind of engrossing escapism that sports provide. We’d be the first to admit that news is only a part of a complete breakfast, albeit the most nutritious part. For their happiness and even their health, most people need to get away from the mayhem of politics and crime once and awhile, if only for three-hour chunks of time.
Here’s the other thing: This isn’t just any star athlete’s dislocated joint we’re talking about. So many idols have proved to be worth not a pittance of the adulation their athletic gifts alone bring them. And you don’t necessarily want your kids looking up to or emulating them.
Patrick Mahomes? He’s the “fine young man” you want your daughter to bring home. He seems like the kind of guy who really might, as playfully depicted in an area TV commercial, bring his neighbor a sack of groceries if his errant throw ruined the backyard barbecue.
We overdo the hero worship. No doubt. But, here’s an icon who sure appears to be the role model we need him to be.
Chiefs fans are looking for hope
Folks cling to hope, and who can blame Chiefs fans for doing so after 50 years in the Super Bowl wilderness? Remember the Obama “HOPE” poster? There’s a local knock-off with Mahomes on it now. There was nothing wrong with Barack Obama emanating hope, and there’s not a thing wrong with Patrick Mahomes filling fans and fledglings with aspirations.
This — and not just a game — is why the pop of Mahomes’ patella Thursday night sent a chill down this city’s spine.
There’s no MRI for that.