Not too many players can have a 2020 calendar year like Patrick Mahomes. In the wake of a coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world, Mahomes took the Kansas City Chiefs to their first title in 50 years, won Super Bowl MVP after he helped his team come back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, and became the richest athlete in North American sports history after signing a 10-year, up to $503 million extension with the Chiefs this offseason.
Mahomes has become the face of the NFL with a bright future ahead of him. Still just 24 years old, Mahomes already has what's essentially the NFL's version of a triple crown (Super Bowl title, MVP, and NFL MVP). He has thrown for 9,128 yards and 76 TDs against 18 INTs in his two full seasons as a starting quarterback (109.6 rating) and the Chiefs have averaged 32 points per game in his 31 starts -- including scoring over 30 points 19 times and over 40 points seven times.
Mahomes has become a larger-than-life figure in a sport that dominates the American sports scene. From the video game-type numbers to the humble personality, Mahomes is the quarterback and leader any team would covet. Mahomes sat down with me in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview for CBSSports.com as NFL training camp is set to begin.
You're the richest man in professional sports right now. That $500 million deal was historic. Can you walk us through the contract negotiations with the Chiefs? Did things go as smoothly as they seemed?
Mahomes: "They really did. The best thing that happened was the Chiefs and my team, we went in with an open mind. We tried to figure out what was not only best for me and my family, but also what was best for the team moving forward. In order to build something great, you have to have that open-minded communication.
"Obviously, I'm very excited, very happy. Having security for my family and security for future generations, but at the same time I'm happy our franchise is able to sign guys like Chris Jones and sign guys that were able to help me build this team together and we'll be able to have something we can build for a long, long time."
The Chiefs were committed to landing you on a deal that kept them in contention for the life of the contract. Was that one of the main sticking points with your deal?
Mahomes: "100 percent. There were two things I said when we went into negotiations: I wanted to keep great players around me and I wanted to have long-term security for my family. I certainly wasn't thinking 10 years. I didn't even know NFL contracts did that.
"With those two things in mind, the way we structured the deal and the way we did it, we're going to have a lot of flexibility to keep great players around me and when you have great players around you, you're going to have a great football team."
How important was the presence of Andy Reid in all of this?
Mahomes: "Very. When you have a great organization from top down, from ownership to personnel, to general manager, to coaches, to players, -- we do stuff the right way. With Coach Reid building that culture of how to play football and how to just be people and how to have a culture of winning while at the same time just being great people to each other -- that gave me the security to know that this is going to be something that's going to be good for a long time.
"Knowing that having a guy (Reid) that has built it the right way that I can keep carrying on that same culture in the locker room as much as possible."
Did Coach Reid promise you he would be in Kansas City all 12 years?
Mahomes: "(Laughs). He told me he's not trying to leave anytime soon! He's all in. He loves this game. He loves everything about it. The family atmosphere that he has with everybody is special. You see the amount of plays he draws up on a daily basis and he's showing me -- you know his fire is still burning bright and he's not trying to dim out any time soon."
Is there any added pressure for you and the Chiefs being the defending Super Bowl champions and having all those expectations of getting back there?
Mahomes: "I don't think there is, honestly. Obviously we have a great football team and I'm always trying to go out there and be the best player and person I can be every single day. But I think when you have great players around you, you can lean on those guys. And you know you've done it before, you know what it takes to do that every single day.
"It's going to be hard. Winning the Super Bowl is not an easy thing. A lot of people don't get to do that in their lifetime and I know that. I'm just going to take advantage of every single opportunity that I have every single day and hopefully have another opportunity to be in a Super Bowl and try to find a way to win it again."
Do you feel any pressure trying to live up to your contract?
Mahomes: "Not necessarily. I'm going to go out there and be the best player and person I can be. Obviously, you want to win a lot of football games, but I feel if I not only make an impact on the football field but the Kansas City community for a long time -- that will play out the contract and that will be what pays off.
"To not only win a lot of football games and hopefully win a championship, but I want to make an impact on the community and the people around me."
You have already accomplished so much in your short career. Your first year you win league MVP and throw 50 TDs, then the next year you win Super Bowl MVP and literally take the Chiefs from being down 10 points in each postseason game and win a championship.
Where I'm going with this -- are there any parts of your game you need to improve on?
Mahomes: "There's still so much I can improve. The mental part of the game, you learn more and more every single year you're in the NFL, especially at the quarterback position. You learn from reps, you learn from seeing different stuff, and we understand defenses are going to keep throwing different stuff at us and combat the stuff we do so well.
"I'm going to keep trying to learn as much as possible. I'm going to keep to drill in the fundamentals. I really have only been playing quarterback for six or seven years. It's not like I've been playing for a very long time at the position, so I'm going to do whatever I can to try and get better and better at the fundamentals.
"When stuff breaks down, I can go back to where I kind of learned how to freestyle play and to let that succeed. I'm excited for this challenge of trying to make myself better and trying to be the best football player I can be."
What was your favorite move of the Chiefs offseason so far?
Mahomes: "I think it was just how many people we brought back. I mean, we kept this thing together. When you're in times like this when you don't get to be around the team, you don't get to see everybody every single day like you're used to and learn how to build those cultures together. To already have those lasting relationships and knowing where you can count on people and having those people in the building that do things the right way, I think that was huge for us to do.
"So when we get back in the building and when we're together, we can pick up right where we left off. The young guys we brought in like Clyde (Edwards-Helaire) and all these great young football players, we can get immersed in that culture very quickly and already have something stable they can build on."
What was the first thing you bought after you signed the contract?
"I got a house, but that was before the contract happened. That was more of a 'you're quarantined, you need somewhere to work out at home' so I got a house and a workout room and stuff like that back in Texas. So I guess you can count that, but I haven't bought anything.
"My dad texted me a couple days after the contract: 'Do you feel any different.' I said I feel exactly the same. I'm going to be the same person I was before I got the contract and before I got to the NFL -- to be the best Patrick Mahomes I can be every single day."
How are you preparing for this year given the current situation? You said you bought a house to quarantine, so tell me what you have been doing to get ready for 2020?
"I try to do as much as I can to stay inside, not only for myself and my family, but for the rest of the world. Just trying to do my part of quarantining and that stuff. I'm training as much as I can at the house and running around the neighborhood, just like everyone else does with the mask on and everything like that."
"I think the biggest thing for this season is to be ready for the challenges and to be ready for the unexpected. You never know what can happen from day-to-day, but I'm going to be ready to embrace those challenges. Do the right protocols, the safe protocols, and try to find a way to play the sport that I love and win football games."
You'll have to convince me here with your ketchup obsession. You seem to put it on everything.
"(Laughs) There's just certain things I put ketchup on that people don't like. You don't have to put it on everything, but it does add a little flavor to certain things people won't try it on.
"The three things I put it on that people don't like are steak, mac and cheese, and eggs. I love it. When I go to a steakhouse and I ask for ketchup, they look at me weird and I just say 'Hey, I'm buying an expensive steak. I'm eating it the way I want.'"
The Chiefs full roster is scheduled to report to training camp on Saturday, July 25. Mahomes and Kansas City will look to become the first team since the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004 to repeat as Super Bowl champions.