Back in 2018, when Patrick Mahomes still was perceived as a mere mortal instead of the transcendent savior of a franchise seeking its first Super Bowl in half a century, he demonstrated a certain charm with his penchant for being out in the community and trying to blend in.
You’d see him here, you’d see him there, to borrow from the old song by The Kinks, a dedicated follower of fashion: In jorts and a cutoff T-Bones jersey at the KC Masterpiece 400 at Kansas Speedway; in a Royals jersey or jacket at Kauffman Stadium; in a Sporting KC T-shirt at Children’s Mercy Park — not to mention materializing at a variety of concerts, hospitals and events such as one at the Truman Library to read aloud Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”
And, oh, the places he’s gone since.
Figuratively in the sense of electrifying the city and fan base by whisking the Chiefs within a whisker of a Super Bowl and being named NFL MVP.
And, literally, as he now seems to be everywhere at once, his life suddenly a fusion of Where’s Waldo? and Forrest Gump.
The documentary of his life should include a montage of all the places he’s been and people he’s been around. And he’s just getting started.
From the cover of Madden NFL 20 to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon … from burgeoning endorsements to Twitter commentary on everything from “Game of Thrones” to “When They See Us” (calling the documentary series about the so-called Central Park Five “hard to watch”) … from the Final Four in Minneapolis to Big Slick events this weekend around Kansas City to the Stanley Cup finals in St. Louis — where he wore a Blues jersey and appeared to chug a beverage as captured on a videoboard to the delight of fans.
The latter was to the chagrin of some here, but Mahomes figures that’s potential Chiefs turf now in the wake of the Rams return to Los Angeles.
“Hopefully, we can start getting some of those fans to come over to the Chiefs, to Kansas City, and hopefully build a great relationship there,” he said Thursday after a Chiefs’ offseason workout.
Heck, if he could have made the time and distance work, he’d have gone to the NBA finals and the Women’s World Cup in France.
All of which begs a question that evokes a revealing answer: Why?
“It’s awesome to me to kind of go to these, like, (high-profile) events that I’ve watched my whole life,” he said, as if he’s not in that same stratosphere himself.
While Mahomes certainly knows he’s viewed as a phenomenon, his adventures and those words reflect his essential style and humility that have remained unspoiled by his fame.
Other than his otherworldly talents as a quarterback and all, not to mention his unfathomably poised ability to handle what comes with it, it all says his persona remains accessible and maybe he’s not so different than the rest of us.
Wherever his exploits take him, his feet seem firmly planted … even as he’s set about emphasizing footwork this offseason in the football sense of the idea.
When Mahomes was told that actor Rob Riggle and other celebrities instrumental in Big Slick are excited to meet him now, he shrugged off the idea that anything has changed in that dynamic.
“It’s definitely cool, getting to meet a lot of people that you’ve seen on TV, that you’ve seen kind of growing up,” he said. “But at the same time, I feel exactly the same, I feel like the same guy as I was last year.”
Asked if he had called dibs on what position he’d like to play in the celebrity softball game on Friday at Kauffman Stadium, he said, “They can put me wherever they want. Hopefully, in the outfield somewhere. I haven’t taken a ground ball in a couple years now. So hopefully I can just be shagging out in the outfield.”
For that matter, he added, “Hopefully I can hit some home runs, so I don’t have to run around the bases.”
So Mahomes keeps the awe factor around him in check with his aw, shucks, factor, part of his admirable ability to be confident without a whiff of arrogance.
If you didn’t see him regularly, you might think that’s too good to be true. But it’s sincere and pure and remarkable in itself.
It’s also part of why seizing these opportunities in his life shouldn’t be mistaken for complacency or distraction or some other inattentiveness to his job. In fact, he is as driven as can be.
In April, coach Andy Reid called Mahomes “relentless” in how he’s gone about film study in the offseason, spoke of the strides in leadership he continues to make and said “he’s pretty passionate about how he goes about this business.”
On Thursday, Reid had what might be called a twinkle in his eye when he spoke of how seriously Mahomes was taking offseason drills.
“He wants to complete every ball … You can go play dodgeball in there, and he’s going to be the most competitive guy in there,” Reid said, adding, “That’s how he rolls. (He wants) to win every throw, and you want him to keep that.”
So you do.
Along with the nearly innocent sense of wonder he retains over being part of the rest of the world — something that makes his magic on the field all the more appealing.