Long before Patrick Mahomes was one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, he was a googly-eyed second-stringer watching Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs take on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the 2017 season-opener at Gillette Stadium.
To this very day, he refers to that game as his “welcome to the NFL moment.”
What is a welcome to the NFL moment? Well, it’s that outer-body experience for rookie players when realizing they’re legitimately living a dream on the big stage. For Mahomes, that moment was during the Super Bowl LI banner reveal for the Patriots.
He was just a first-year player standing opposite from Brady, Bill Belichick and the greatest dynasty in NFL history. Even though he didn’t actually play in the game, he claimed it was the first big NFL memory that sticks out for him when looking back.
“For me, it was a game I didn’t even play in. It was the first game we played, when I was late to the meeting, the first game we played was we go to New England on Thursday night—opening, they drop the banner and all of this different kind of stuff,” said Mahomes, when appearing on the New Heights podcast. “I remember running out on the field and being like, ‘Holy, this is the NFL.’
“Dude, I was in pat-and-go and I was firing stuff. Like, pat-and-go everybody, just lobbing them. I’m throwing 50-yard seeds down the sideline, and everybody was like, ‘What are you doing?’ I’m pumped up. And then I sat, I got to watch the game, and obviously, we had a heck of a game plan. Kareem Hunt had a heck of a game—and Alex. So we ended up winning that game. But to me, that was the first moment of like, man, this is the NFL. I watched Tom Brady my entire life. So I’m like, we’re playing Tom Brady, the New England Patriots.”
Of course, Patriots fans would love to forget that game considering the Chiefs crashed New England’s Super Bowl celebration by handing them a 42-27 upset loss in their home building.
The Patriots did ultimately bounce back from the loss and punched their ticket to the Super Bowl that year—another accomplishment in the storied legacy that Mahomes grew up admiring.