Submit

It’s the Freaking Super Bowl

Jan 30 2020
Photo by
Ben Liebenberg via AP
Photo by
Ben Liebenberg via AP
Mitchell Schwartz
Kansas City Chiefs
Jan 30 2020

Last year, our season was basically decided by a coin flip. 

AFC Championship Game, against New England, heading into OT. The Patriots win the toss, take the ball and go down and score a touchdown. 

They win.

We go home. 

Season over.

Now, I don’t want to speak for the rest of the guys, but I’m pretty sure devastated doesn’t even describe what we felt. A lot of tears were shed in our locker room after that game. We felt like we had let the Hunt family and Chiefs Kingdom down.

We were heartbroken.

But in a weird way, I actually think that we took it in stride — at least about as “in stride” as a team can take something like that. We felt that pain, and then we moved on. Because we understood our future. We had Andy Reid. We had a great core of young players. And most of all, we had Pat Mahomes, who was in only his second year — his first as a starter — and had already put together an MVP season and led us to the AFC title game. 

So it wasn’t like, Man, this was our ONE shot, and we didn’t get it done.

I think that more than anything, we just couldn’t wait for this season.

Because we knew we’d be back.

And not only did we get back, but we were able to take the next step, and now we’re here in Miami, getting ready for the Super Bowl.

Peter Read Miller via AP

And when you find yourself with an opportunity like this — to compete for a championship — I think it’s only natural to reflect and to appreciate the journey a little. Because it’s been a pretty crazy ride this year. I mean, we came into the season with all these expectations and started off 4–0, then lost a couple of games, and then Pat gets hurt in the Denver game and the whole season is in question.

And, you know … if people didn’t know what Pat Mahomes was really about before that, they do now. I mean, when people think of Pat, they usually go straight to the stats — the 50 touchdowns and the 5,000 yards — or the fact that he can throw the ball out of the freaking stadium. 

But this season, people got to see a lot more of the Pat that we see every day behind the scenes. 

The toughness to come back from a dislocated kneecap after missing only two games, and to play when everybody knew he wasn’t 100%, was a big part of that.

If people didn’t know what Pat Mahomes was really about before that, they do now.

But I think that if you were to pick one play that demonstrated what Pat really brings to this team — toughness included —  it would be the touchdown run he had against the Titans right before the half in the AFC championship game. 

I mean, the athleticism to get out of the pocket and make a guy miss in the backfield is one thing. But then, to be running up the sideline and instead of just stepping out of bounds around the 10-yard line, cut it back inside and power through a couple of tackles to get into the end zone?

He just was not going to be denied.

That’s Pat.

He sets the tone for everything we do.

And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy as young as Pat who is also the kind of leader he is. Because, while all those things I just mentioned are definitely characteristics of a leader, sometimes leadership is about the things you don’t do.

When the Texans came to Arrowhead in the divisional round and jumped out to a 24–0 lead on us, you’d think we’d have felt like our season was slipping away. Like our backs were against the wall or something. And maybe we should have felt that way. That’s a big hole to climb out of.

But if you had been on our sideline or in our huddle, you’d have never guessed we were down 24–0.

Nobody pointed fingers. Nobody pressed. Nobody panicked. 

Guys weren’t giving rah-rah speeches. Our coaches didn’t abandon the game plan. Pat didn’t force anything.

There was just this … calm.

And it all started with Pat. I think that if Pat had come over yelling and screaming or had done something else atypical, guys might have freaked out. But he didn’t. He just came over to each one of us on the sideline, patted us on the shoulder pads and said, “C’mon, let’s pick things up.”

And then we went out, got back to executing the small stuff, and won a football game.

It really was that simple.

And it was more of the same when we fell behind 10–0 to Tennessee.

No panic.

No pressing.

Just … let’s go play our game, believe in each other and trust in the work that we’ve put in.

And now here we are.

All those ups and downs we’ve been through this season are why we’re confident going into this Super Bowl, even though we know it’s going to be a huge challenge facing a really good 49ers team with an incredible defense. We’ve overcome a lot this year, and now we believe we’re playing our best football when it matters most — which is really all you can ask for.

Aaron M. Sprecher via AP

One thing a lot of people are talking about going into this Super Bowl is Andy Reid. There’s the whole narrative about his legacy and what winning a Super Bowl would mean for it. Coach Reid is a football genius — a brilliant offensive mind. But he still doesn’t have that ring. So a lot of people are asking us players if we really want to win this one for Coach.

And it’s like … yeah, of course we do. I think everybody in our locker room really wants to get that monkey off Coach’s back and get him that ring.

But we also want to win because … it’s the freaking Super Bowl.

I think everybody in our locker room really wants get that monkey off Coach’s back and get him that ring. But we also want to win because … it’s the freaking Super Bowl.

Do we want to win it for Coach Reid? Yes. But we also want to win it for ourselves. We want to win it for Pat, who’s been such a great teammate and leader. For guys like Eric Fisher, who has endured a lot during his career and is probably playing the best football of his life right now. For guys like Tyrann Mathieu, who became an instant leader on our defense with his attitude and his infectious style of play. 

For all of our teammates. 

All the coaches. 

For the Hunt family.

And of course, for Chiefs Kingdom.

You know, when I was a free agent in 2016, my decision came down to only a couple of teams. For me, staying in Cleveland was definitely an option. I had spent the first four years of my career there. It’s where I met my wife, Brooke, and it’s where she’s from.

Courtesy of Mitchell Schwartz

From a football standpoint, coming to Kansas City made a lot of sense. I wanted an opportunity to win a Super Bowl, and with Coach Reid and the talent we had here, I really thought we could do that. But Brooke and I didn’t know anything about Kansas City, and she had never really left the Cleveland area. I was lucky that my brother, Geoff, had played here, so he was able to give me a lot of insight. But still, it was a big decision for us. Especially for Brooke. I think it was scary for her to make such a big move like that for the first time in her life.

But she trusted me and took a chance on Kansas City, and I thank her for it every day. 

Because it’s turned out to be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. 

At this time last year, I was at home with Brooke planning our off-season, while the Patriots were on their way to the Super Bowl. If that coin flip goes the other way, maybe that would have been different. We’ll never know. But as disappointing as that loss was, how we have responded as a team this season, with all the ups and downs, has been pretty awesome to see. 

Fifty years is a long time to go without a championship, especially for a franchise with such a storied history and some of the best fans in the world. And one thing I can tell you is … this team understands that. And I can promise you, Chiefs Kingdom, that come Sunday we’re going to do everything in our power to finish what we’ve started, get Coach Reid that ring and bring the Lombardi trophy back to Kansas City.

Mitchell Schwartz
Kansas City Chiefs