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  • Writer's pictureJoshua U.

Super Bowl LVIII: Dynastic!

I don't know about you, but I sure love myself a sports dynasty.

They're most prevalent in the NBA. Depending on your definition of the word, we've seen anywhere from 6-to-8 dynasties in the now 77-year history of the 'Association', starting off with the George Mikan's Minneapolis Lakers way back in the 1950s, and in the present-day with Steph Curry's Golden State Warriors.

The '50s Lakers and the present-day Warriors bookend the NBA's storied history with dynasties.

They're slightly less prevalent in the NFL, especially when only considering the Super Bowl era. The most recent American football dynasties have been the '70s Pittsburgh Steelers, the '80s San Francisco 49ers, the '90s Dallas Cowboys and, of course, the Belichick x Brady, post-2000 New England Patriots.

There have been many great teams that have graced the NFL with their dominance, but these four teams defined the league for four consecutive generations respectively. Honorable mention to the late-70s, early-80s Oakland Raiders, who won three titles in that time span.

Congratulations to the Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Andy Reid, late-2010s-into-the-2020s Kansas City Chiefs for placing themselves within the annals of the NFL's most prestigious with their 25-22 victory over the 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII.

Patrick Mahomes and Mecole Hardman celebrate their game-winning touchdown connection in the final seconds of OT to clinch yet another Super Bowl for the Kansas City Chiefs.

It's difficult to become a dynasty in sports, and it's especially difficult in the NFL. The yearly draft and salary cap are literally intended to ensure parity league-wide. And professional football carries so many risk factors that should prevent one team from having sustained championship success; injuries & non-guaranteed player contracts are two of the most major factors. Through that, it takes a franchise finding the secret sauce to have long-term success. I'm talking about teams that can find just the right mix of head coach, coaching staff, generational-level star player-or-players, and a great ancillary supporting cast of characters around them.

For the present-day Chiefs? Check, check, check, and check.

Andy Reid, despite a very good tenure as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles that included 5 conference championship appearances, was exiled from the franchise following Philly's disastrous 4-12 season in 2012. He quickly got back on his feet in 2013 with the Chiefs, and one of his very first orders of business came in the 2013 NFL Draft, with his selection of tight end Travis Kelce in the third-round. Reid and Kelce absolutely hit the ground running, as Kansas City immediately ran off a stretch of 5 consecutive winning seasons, compiling a stellar 53-27 record, including 4 playoff berths and 2 division championships. However, while their QB play with Alex Smith at the helm was good -- it wasn't good enough to get the Chiefs into the class of true championship contention.

In the 2017 Draft, Kansas City traded up 17 draft slots to select Patrick Mahomes II with the 10th overall pick. In hindsight, it's hilarious to consider just how controversial this move was at the time. Not only was current QB Alex Smith doing very serviceable work for the Chiefs, but they decided to select Mahomes ahead of Clemson's Deshaun Watson, whose collegiate accomplishments far outweighed Mahomes'.

A draft pick that has certainly aged like fine wine, to say the least.

But, love at first sight is a real thing, and Reid and his offensive staff fell in love with Mahomes during the pre-draft process.

Mahomes sat for the near-entirety of his rookie season, his only cameo coming in a meaningless Week 17 game in the final week of the regular season. The next season saw Mahomes take the NFL by storm.

How about over 5,000 yards, 50 TDs and and an MVP award in your very first season as an NFL starting quarterback? That had never been done before -- and might just turn out to never be done again. Mahomes, Kelce, and emerging superstar speedster wide receiver Tyreek Hill set NFL defenses & stat sheets ablaze throughout the year. Despite their 2018 AFC Title Game loss to the Patriots in the final leg of their dynasty -- the Chiefs were completely set for a Super Bowl run in 2019, with Mahomes still on his cheap rookie deal and ample amounts of money to spend to bolster a struggling defense.

A better love story than Kelce and Swift?

They did just that in their first meeting with San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV in Miami, this dynasty's first title. Kansas City faced a double-digit deficit in ALL THREE of their playoff games in that run -- a whopping 24-0 deficit in the Divisional Round to the aforementioned Deshaun Watson and his Houston Texans, a 10-point disadvantage to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship, and a 10-point 4th quarter lead in the Super Bowl. Kansas City unfathomably managed to win each one of those games on their way to the Lombardi Trophy, a testament to their overwhelming talent and explosive skill & abilities.

Patrick Mahomes' against the blitz in his MVP performance in Super Bowl LIV? 6-of-9, 74 yards and 2 touchdowns -- a plotline that would pop up again in the Super Bowl 4 years later in a Chiefs/Niners rematch.

You see how much adversity an NFL team has to face & fight through in order to win one Super Bowl. To win multiple is excruciatingly hard, and the Chiefs experienced that reality firsthand over the following two seasons.

The Chiefs made it back to the Super Bowl in 2020, yes. They also went a remarkable 14-2 in 2020, yes. But that was a version of the Chiefs that was banged up (Mahomes dealt with a turf toe injury that would require surgery following the season), and critically flawed, especially on the offensive line. They jabbed and ducked their way to Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay, but ran into what turned out to be an impossible challenge. They would meet Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers there, as the Bucs became the first team in NFL history to host a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Those Bucs not only had Tom directing their offense with precision, but they also featured a brutalizing pass-rush that completely overwhelmed the Chiefs' patchwork offensive-line throughout the game, as Mahomes was left running for his life the entire night.

If Mahomes is indeed Superman, the Buccaneers proved to be his kryptonite in Super Bowl LV.

In recent NFL history, only ONE team since the 1990's Buffalo Bills, who famously lost four Super Bowls in a row, have ever made it back to the Super Bowl after losing in the previous season -- that'd be the aforementioned 2018 Patriots. Mahomes, Kelce, Hill and Reid, however, dominated in the regular season once again in 2021, and were back in the AFC Championship Game once again, this time against some new upstart challengers in Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Despite the historical odds, the Chiefs looked primed to make it back to the Super Bowl, with a commanding 21-3 lead over Cincy at home. The collapse that followed completely stunned the country. The Chiefs got outscored 24-3 the rest of the way and lost 27-24 in OT. It was such a statement win for the typically hapless Bengals franchise that they deemed the Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium "Burrowhead" after Burrow's comeback.

Have to imagine all the "Burrowhead" talk didn't sit well with Patrick, for all the 365 days he had to deal with it.

At this point -- since sports betting is all the rage these days -- if FanDuel or DraftKings or any other online sportsbook had put up a futures bet that read "Will the Kansas City Chiefs become a dynasty?", I'd have to imagine not a lot of money would've been put down in their favor. Football fans started to hold Burrow in higher regard than Mahomes after that game's outcome, and, more critically for KC, one of their "core four's" contract negotiations would now begin to loom over their heads.

I brought up how the salary cap is intended to ensure parity, and, in a way, corrupt the extended success of great teams. Tyreek Hill, after providing multiple years of top-tier production as BOTH a kick returner AND a star wide receiver, was looking to receive the biggest catch of his career -- a generationally-wealthy new contract. After Mahomes' 10 yr, $450M record extension after the 2019 season, it complicated the franchises' ability to retain Hill. A shocker ensued at the beginning stages of the 2021 offseason, and Hill submitted a trade request to the Chiefs' front office. The request was granted at warp speed, and Hill was suddenly a Miami Dolphin.

Tyreek Hill controversially left seemingly a perfect situation with Mahomes & KC, for sunnier Miami skies and a pairing with another young quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa.

As the Chiefs' doubters started to grow louder even before the Tyreek trade, they flat-out started to shout at the top of their lungs after it. Mahomes' receiving crops sans Hill and excluding Kelce looked more like Walmart shelf stockers and Home Depot lot associates than actual NFL wide receivers. Even some of Mahomes' peers publicly remarked on just how different (and worse) they expected the Chiefs to look post-trade.

KC's rival Chargers WR Keenan Allen commented on the Chiefs' trade of Tyreek Hill on March 3rd, 2022. (This tweet aged like milk in 90-degree weather.)

At the very least, it was clear for the Chiefs at this point that they would have to undergo a change in philosophy and approach if they were to extend their current championship window. With the lack of big-play ability left on the roster, Mahomes would have to commit himself more to taking the reasonable, easy throws more often. He'd have to rely much more on Kelce. And, most importantly, Andy Reid would have to lean on his multiple-time champion defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo much more as the Chiefs would attempt to transition into a ball-control/defense first type of team.

Attempt: Successful.

The Chiefs went 14-3 in 2022. Even with the loss of Hill, the offense led the league in points scored, in large part due to a 7th-round rookie running back emerging more & more as the season went on. Isiah Pacheco was controversially awarded Tyreek Hill's #10 before the season, but his impact began to measure up towards the postseason. His running style, which I can only define as dogged and relentless, took the Chiefs' offense to new, different heights -- they were no longer a one-dimensional unit.

The defense, after finishing 26th in yards allowed in the prior season, improved all the way to 12th in 2022. They wouldn't have won their AFC playoff games between the Jaguars and Bengals without their defense, as they held each team to a 20-pt total -- more than good enough for a Mahomes-led offense. Mahomes wound up exacting revenge against Burrow and the Bengals, putting all that "Burrowhead" junk to rest. Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles had their way in the Super Bowl against the Chiefs' D, though, scoring 35 points.

But here lies the power in having an all-time great at QB seemingly in reserve.

The Chiefs went through 2022 not having to rely on Mahomes as 'Superman'. This became increasingly important as Mahomes suffered an ankle sprain in the Divisional Round. As the Chiefs stared down a 24-14 deficit at halftime with Mahomes aggravating the injury in the first half, Superman appeared, tossing 3 second-half TDs in a 38-35 comeback victory. Andy Reid also got to celebrate a Super Bowl victory against the franchise that quit on him a decade earlier.

Andy Reid enjoys the confetti cascade following his 38-35 Super Bowl victory over his old friends, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Mahomes is an all-time great. Not just NFL-wide. He is one of the more legendary sports figures we have ever seen across history. It's not hyperbole. Other all-time greats had to learn how to win a different way just as Mahomes did. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant had to learn to accept Phil Jackson's triangle offense to win more championships. Tiger Woods and Serena Williams both won titles as aging legends & thus had to learn how to rely more on their mind than their generational physical tools.

For as many championships as the Chiefs may go on to win, I hold the belief that Mahomes & this group will look at their 2022 title run as the one that proved to them that they could win playing any style of football.

Yet somehow, their Super Bowl victory a couple of days ago was markedly more impressive.

The 2023 Kansas City Chiefs became the first team in NFL history to lead the league in dropped passes from their wide receivers and still win the Super Bowl. For as long as I live, that will blow my mind. The Chiefs looked completely disconnected at multiple points this season on offense. On defense, they fielded their best unit in the Reid era. They finished the regular season at 11-6, their worst regular season record in the Mahomes era, finishing as the third seed in the AFC.

As great as KC's defense had been, headlined by defensive lineman Chris Jones and cornerbacks L'Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie, faced a guantlet of firepower in the postseason. As it turned out, they faced old friend Tyreek Hill and the #3 ranked offense in Miami in Round 1 -- an easy 26-7 victory for KC in dangerously-chilling temperatures. They went on to face the #5 ranked offense in the Buffalo Bills, in what would be Patrick Mahomes' first ever road playoff game. Mahomes got off to a hot start, and the defense once again dominated in the second half in a 27-24 victory. The Chiefs D's magnum opus was their performance in the AFC Title Game @ Baltimore, against the #6 offense in the Ravens, where KC put on an absolute masterclass in shutting down the near-unanimous league MVP in Lamar Jackson.

The Chiefs' defense went on an historic run in the 2023 Playoffs -- no team had ever beaten 4 of the top 6 ranked offenses on the way to the title.

They took down the league's very best offense in San Francisco in Super Bowl LVIII. It wasn't a complete shutdown performance, but they did just enough if you believe that the defense's primary job is to keep it close enough for Pat. Mahomes, after a struggle in the first half, came alive in the second, tossing two TD passes after halftime. It's been debated the last couple of days by many in sports media that "the 49ers lost this game more than the Chiefs won it", but Mahomes certainly had his moments, punctuated by Kansas City's final drive. The Chiefs' overtime drive was a beautiful culmination of Mahomes, Kelce and Reid's conjoined greatness.

The Chiefs' season was on the line midway through OT, facing a 4th-and-1 from their own 34-yard-line. If they failed in picking it up? Game, set, match. Andy Reid decided to keep it simple, and put the ball in Mahomes' hands with a three-way option; he could've handed the ball off to Pacheco, but didn't. He scrambled out to the right, with Kelce scrambling out into the flat with one 49er defender separating them. The defender went with Kelce, leaving Mahomes ample space to scramble. First down.

Next high-leverage moment: after an inexplicable catch-and-run BACKWARDS for -3 yards from one of Kansas City's much-maligned wide receivers in Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the Chiefs faced a 3rd-and-6 from their own 46. The 49ers committed a cardinal sin, and blitzed an all-time great quarterback. Andy Reid had the perfect play-call on, and Mahomes calmly lofted the ball to young rookie receiver Rashee Rice for 13 yards. Another first down.

Much is made of Mahomes' lure as a passer. But, as countless playoff opponents have seen throughout his reign, he can absolutely murder you as a runner as well. His momentous long run in clutch time in last year's Super Bowl set up KC's win. And now, in this moment? A 19-yard rush on 3rd-and-1, doing it in the clutch with his legs once again. Keep moving those chains, baby.

On the Chiefs' penultimate play, Reid dialed up a rare tight end screen from Mahomes to Kelce, and Kelce's determination on the run-after-catch gifted KC 1st-and-goal-to-go.

Then, jackpot on the scramble right pass to Hardman. Touchdown, game, set, blouses, all that.

The Chiefs are crowned champions for the third time in five years, and Mahomes becomes a 3x Super Bowl champion at just 28 years of age.

It's worth noting how similar this Chiefs' run is to the dynasty that directly preceded theirs in New England. A Hall-of-Fame head coach in Bill Belichick, a Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Brady, and a Hall-of-Fame tight end in Rob Gronkowski carried the second leg of the Pats dynasty on their collective shoulders. The Mahomes-Kelce-Reid trio has done the same -- and they now carry the best defense in the NFL, too. Let me state again: it's difficult to win one singular Super Bowl championship. It's unconscionably difficult to win 3 in a short span of time. What amazes me the most about this Chiefs' run is not any of the great things they've accomplished before. It's how well-built they are to keep winning big moving forward.

I incessantly note what the letters 'N-F-L' really stand for in my mind: "Not For Long".

But if anyone's going to buck that trend in a way that hasn't been done by anyone BUT the aforementioned Patriots?

It's the Chiefs -- whom, despite all the flaws that they currently have and will continue to carry --

have the best player in the world in Pat Mahomes II, who is on a relentless mission to knock Tom Brady off the GOAT throne.

It's worth noting that NO team in NFL history has EVER three-peated (won three Super Bowl titles in a row)...

But, to Mahomes, that's just another historic, unprecedented challenge that he'll gear up to try and conquer.

How many more Super Bowls can Mahomes and the Chiefs win? Time will tell, but the 28-year-old is indisputably off to the greatest start by any player in the history of the National Football League, with plenty of room to go.


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