patrick-mahomes.jpg
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

All's fair in love and war, and football. So when Patrick Mahomes was being playfully chided by fans of other AFC West teams as he participated in the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe, he made sure they could take what they were giving. One fan in particular wanted to make sure the former league MVP knew there was something special brewing with the Los Angeles Chargers -- warning Mahomes to "watch out for Justin Herbert" in 2021. 

With a playful grin, Mahomes jabbed back with a shot heard around the NFL world.

"I'll see it when I believe it," said Mahomes.

What he undoubtedly meant to say was, "I'll believe it when I see it."

Either way, the video went viral and Mahomes now feels it prudent to clarify that what he said wasn't actually a shot at Herbert whatsoever, but instead fun football banter with fans of rival teams. 

"Yeah, I think it got taken out of context," Mahomes told USA Today. "I was talking some trash to all those Raiders and Broncos and Chargers fans out there. I have a ton of respect for him as a player. ... For him to come out in Year 1 and play at that level is a special thing. 

"Not a lot of guys can do it. And I know I'll have a lot of tough games against him in the future. So it was kind of a joking matter that I think blew up on Twitter like most things to do."

Herbert entered the NFL as the sixth overall pick in 2020, and to say he hit the ground running is a gross understatement. After making his first career start in Week 2, the former Oregon star went on to throw for 4,336 yards with 31 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions -- finishing his first year in the league with a passer rating of 98.3 and also adding 234 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns to his stat line for good measure. His record-setting debut led to NFL Rookie of the Year honors and proved the Los Angeles Chargers made the right call a year ago.

So as it turns out, the rambunctious Chargers fan was correct. The entire division should be on alert for what Herbert might do in Year 2, and Mahomes respects it, setting the stage for epic battles for years to come.