Comfortable in role with Chiefs, in community, Patrick Mahomes enters Year 2 as starter

Four hours after walking off the field at the Chiefs practice facility in white Adidas cleats bedazzled with iridescent spikes and a blue-green graffitied ‘Three Stripe Life’ logo on the toe cap, Patrick Mahomes pulled on another pair of shoes as he arrived at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

These were dark blue and black with neon orange accents and three signature white stripes on the side.

Like the first pair, these shoes stood out — and that was the point.

These specific shoes, the Adidas Asterisk Collective Ultraboost 2019, were created for the Foot Locker-assembled group of athletes and artists on a mission to inspire and empower others to make a positive impact. The sneaker is supposed to be worn by people who embody the asterisk and what it means to stand apart.

Mahomes, a founding member of the group, fulfilled that mission when he surprised a group of patients at Children’s Mercy with gear from his 15 and the Mahomies Foundation and a variety of Adidas shoes.

“It was awesome being at Children’s Mercy to do so many great things for these kids, especially around this area,” he said. “It’s something we’ve been talking about for a while, and I’m glad to see it finally coming to fruition.”

Through the Asterisk Collective, he also presented the hospital with donations of iPads, telepresence robots, a Vecta machine and Mamaroos Swings to help assist with patients’ rehabilitation and well-being. Mahomes also donated fully-loaded PlayStation 4 systems.

Afterward, he took pictures with the room full of kids and their family members and signed autographs.

The event was part of a full schedule for Mahomes, coming hours after his third OTA practice of the week. But if he was tired, he didn’t show it.

“These kids are working 1,000 times harder than I am,” he said. “So I want to make sure that they know that the things that they do, that they’re worth my time, they’re worth their time, and do whatever I can to show them that we’re supporting them just as much as they’re supporting us.”

This is Year 3 in the league and Year 2 as a starter for Mahomes, but in many ways it’s his first as a full-fledged superstar.

That means juggling on-field responsibilities along with being a leader on the team and in the community.

“It’s been a long process,” Mahomes said of developing his foundation. “I’ve wanted to do it the entire time I’ve been in the NFL, but I had to get the right things in order and do it the right way. Having great partners around me has helped me really boost it and get it going at a very fast rate. I’m glad I can go out and do things like this in the community more often.”

While his charity work through his foundation and various partnerships picks up, he’s also spending time watching super-cuts of his plays throughout the season. Together with the coaching staff, Mahomes is evaluating himself through that film study and identifying areas where he needs to get better — even after a 50-touchdown and over 5,000-yard MVP season.

It’s a humbling experience, but a necessary one for growth.

“I learned that there is still a ton that I need to improve on,” he said. “I made a lot of plays happen off-script last year, but there were times when I’d try to make those plays happen instead of just taking the easy completion for a first down. … That is stuff that I have to keep working on every single year and he really opened my eyes to that.”

Along with his skill-set and decision-making, Mahomes is also developing his voice on the field. His teammates praised him last year for being a natural leader, but he’s still finding ways to grow and mature in that role.

A couple weeks ago, Mahomes noticed wide receiver Sammy Watkins coming in last in team sprints. Afterward, he let him know that was unacceptable.

“He looked at me like, ‘Yeah,’” Watkins said. “I looked at him like, ‘I got it bro. I’m on it.’”

The receiver came in first after that.

“It’s a good thing we can joke around and be friendly, but like, step it up and speed it up,” Watkins said. “Those are things that you can take from a quarterback that’s actually doing it on the field and doing it off the field.”

Mahomes is comfortable — in his role on the team, in the community and in his own skin. But he’s also not afraid to try new things, too. This year at OTAs, he’s testing out practicing with a visor on his helmet.

“I’m pretty superstitious,” he said. “So if I play well in it, I’ll keep it going.”

A year ago, Mahomes was trying to find himself as a first-time NFL starter. Now, in the midst of his third offseason with the Chiefs, he’s just about got that figured out.

“Last year, I was trying to become the leader, trying to figure out ways to do different stuff with different players and different teammates,” he said. “Now I have that schedule knowing what I need to do each and every week to get better. And at the same knowing I can’t be satisfied with where I’m at. I have to keep getting better every single day.”

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Brooke Pryor covers the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star, where she works to give readers a deeper understanding of the franchise and the NFL through daily stories, game coverage, and player profiles. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C.