Mahomes could be at a career crossroads

Just 18 month ago, Patrick Mahomes career was ascending like a rocket ship.

In just his fourth season in the league and third as a starter, he was in the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year with a chance to repeat.

He was facing .the Tampa Bay Bucs, a team the Chiefs had beaten 27-24 a couple of months earlier with a chance to hand Tom Brady his fourth Super Bowl loss. And if Dee Ford hadn’t lined up offsides late in fourth quarter of the 2018 AFC title game to nullify a Brady interception, he would have been appearing in his third straight Super Bowl. 

A second Super Bowl win in his fourth year and third year as a starter would matched the start of Brady’s career. Brady won two in his first four years in the league and third as a starter.

But then the wheels fell off for Mahomes and the Chiefs. They were routed 31-9 by the Bucs.

The Chiefs were missing two starting offensive linemen, had problems protecting Mahomes and their defense couldn’t stop Brady, who won his seventh Super Bowl ring.

Then his woes continues last year when teams started taking away his deep passes by dropping eight players in coverage with two deep safeties.

It took more than half a season for Mahones to adjust before he threw 12 touchdown passes with one pick in last five regular-season games and then won two playoff games to move into the AFC title game for the fourth year in a row, matching a feat done only by Jim Kelly of the Bills.

And once they took a 21-3 lead over the Bengals in the AFC title game, Mahomes seemed destined to make the Super Bowl a third year in a row. That is a feat pulled off only by a the 1971-73 Dolphins.

But then things went south again for the Chiefs. In a candid interview with, Mahomes admitted they started to play not to lose. And they lost in overtime.

As Mahomes enters his sixth season and his fifth as a starter, the question is where does he go from here, especially now that the Chiefs have traded Tyreek Hill. 

And the Chiefs face a challenge in their division now that Russell Wilson is in Denver in a division that also includes Justin Herbert and Derek Carr. And Joe Burrow and Josh Allen are still in the conference.

There is no guarantee Mahomes will win a second Super Bowl, much less multiple titles.

Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Wilson are quarterbacks who won Super Bowls early in their careers. Favre never won another one and Rodgers and Wilson are still seeking their second.

Mahones may have raised expectations to an unrealistic level the way he started his career. Or maybe he is still destined to win multiple titles.

His quest to win more rings will be an intriguing challenge in the coming years.

Jim Brown didn’t get the Brady treatment

Tom Brady’s surprising 11-day absence from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ training camp this month showed how times have changed.

The Bucs only announced that he left for “personal reasons” and coach Todd Bowles only said it was preplanned. According to reports, it turns out he had planned a family vacation while he was retired for two months and wanted to keep that commitment.

The Bucs handled it well and had no objections. It is not like he needed a full training camp. In effect, their attitude was like the line in the commercial, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”

Contrast their attitude to what happened in 1966 when Jim Brown was making the movie “The Dirty Dozen” in England and there were delays in the filming.

Owner Art Modell didn’t leave the light on for him. He started fining Brown $100 a day (Brown was making $60,000) and said he would suspend him if he didn’t report by July 17.

So Jim Brown wrote him a letter saying he was retiring and never played again. And and just like that, the league lost one of its biggest stars at age 30.

The Bucs weren’t going to make that mistake. Brady is 45 and already retired for a couple of months at the end of last season before deciding he wanted to return. They let him call his own shots.

Once he returned, things seemed back to normal until he departed during camp. While he was gone, there were all kinds of wild speculations that he might be doing something like appearing on The Masker Singer. That made no sense, but it took on a life of its own. The family vacation seemed the most logicial reason.

If Brown were making a movie today, his team probably would have left the light on for him.

Meanwhile, the Browns have never made it to the championship game much less won it since he left. Kind of the Browns version of the Curse of the Bambino.

Covid still casts a shadow over the NFL

When Drew Lock came down with a bout of Covid and missed Seattle’s 27-11 loss to the Bears on Thursday night, it didn’t get much attention around the league even though coach Pete Carroll said he seemed to be “really sick.”

He didn’t lose any ground in his battle with Geno Smith for the starting job because Smith was ineffective in the first half and missed the second half with a knee bruise.

Carroll didn’t give much information about Lock’s status. And Lock could play in the final preseason game against Dallas and start the regular season at Denver when the Seahawks will meet their former quarterback, Russell Wilson.

Even though the NFL hasn’t had much of a problem with Covid during training camp and most people who are double boosted only have mild symptoms, Lock’s illness was a reminder that Covid could still play a role this season.

There is always a chance a key player could come down with Covid the day before a game and be sidelined and could have a major factor on a game.

Teams must give out a list 90 minutes before each game of the players who will be inactive.

This list will likely get more attention this year before each game than it usually does.

Americans seems to be acting as if they are done with Covid and are getting back to normal lives. But Covid may not be done with Americans – especially NFL players.

It may not be a big deal if a baseball player comes down with Covid and misses a few games. They play 162 of them.

But with each team playing just 17 NFL regular games, Covid could have a big impact from time to time.

And then there’s the playoffs.

Lock is not likely to be the last NFL quarterback or key player to miss a game with the illness this year. The NFL can only hope it won’t happen very often this year.