His image is starting to be everywhere; From times square, to the cover of your favorite video game, even on your ketchup bottle.
Whitehouse alum Patrick Mahomes was pro football’s most valuable player this past season. And he’s not slowing down on or off the field as he prepares for 2019.
While he’s not the first, and more than likely he won’t be the last East Texan to win the NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes could be in the process of becoming the most recognizable sports celebrity the Piney Woods has ever produced.
“This is just the beginning. We have a long ways to go. Thank you,” stated Mahomes when he accepted his MVP award.
So what will he do for an encore?
Only the second player in league history to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdown passes in the same season, the former Whitehouse and Texas Tech gun-slinger is now viewed by many as the new face of the NFL.
Mahomes’ former Whitehouse teammate & ex-UT Tyler national championship pitcher Ryan Cheatham believes “if there was a league past the N-F-L, he’d probably make that league too.”
The type of record-setting performances that Mahomes displayed in his first year as the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs is unlike anything pro-football has ever seen. As he gets ready for another go-round. He’s not too concerned that he may have set his own bar too high.
“It’s not about thinking about the expectations. It’s about just getting better as a quarterback, and as a person, and as a leader of the team. And that’s about doing the little things every single day is going through the routine that’s got you here, and then finding ways to improve that,” said Mahomes
His accomplishments have made Mahomes a brand. And earned him all kinds of endorsement deals including the cover of Madden NFL 20, the latest version of the eternally popular video game. But he stresses that football comes first.
“I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of great people in my agency, and in this facility, and that we know what kind of person that I want to be seen as, what kind of person that I actually am. And I want to make sure that I align myself with people that are on the same page. And I’ve got to go around and have great partnerships now, and got to go with speaking engagements with great charities and people around the country really.”
And giving back is major part of his essence. Making an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in April, Mahomes announced the launching of his new foundation, 15 and the Mahomies. Its purpose is to help kids from under-served communities, or that are fighting a chronic illness, or serious injury.
“Those kids are the ones that train harder than me by a hundred times every single day. And I want to make sure I can give back to them in any shape, in any way in order to get them the resources that they need to have an amazing life.”
For some of his former high school teammates, that’s just the type of person he is.
“He was always a cool guy. You know he never thought he was better than everyone else. And just a person that led by example,” said Kostin Wallace who is now an assistan football coach at The Brook Hill School in Bullard.
“He goes out in the community, you know, he gets everybody involved. He’s a great role model to look after,” adds Jamal Kennedy, now an assistant football coach at Whitehouse Junior High.
On the field, there’s probably no one better to assess how he’s evolved than his former Whitehouse and Texas Tech teammate Dylan Cantrell. He caught balls from Mahomes since their childhood, and is now in the NFL himself as a receiver for the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I think he’s just gonna keep getting better from here. It’s been awesome to watch him develop, and watch him grow throughout the years from high school, college, and now at the pro level. It’s funny because no one could expect him to do these big of things but at the same time we’re not surprised because he’s got all the talent, and he puts in the work. And he prepares better than anyone. So not surprised at all,” said Cantrell.
Another NFL East Texan who’s been friends with Mahomes since they were kids is Baltimore Ravens linebacker and John Tyler alum Tyus Bowser.
“Pat is Pat. I mean, I’ve been knowing him forever, and he’s been doing the same thing since he’s been at Whitehouse. So just seeing what he’s doing man. You know it’s no surprise to me. But you know it’s always good to see, you know one of my guys go out there and, you know, win M-V-P, and you know, play as well as he did. So I’m real happy for him,” said the former Houston Cougar standout.
For Bowser, who like Mahomes enters his third year in the league, one highlight of his 2018 campaign was when he was able to trade jerseys with his old buddy when the Chiefs beat the Ravens in overtime in KC back in December.
“It’s more than just a game, you know, you get to see guys, you done always look up to in the same area. And you know we just represent East Texas. And you know put on for you know our city. And it’s just good to see you know both of us in the league, you know living our dreams,” said Bowser.
As Mahomes goes through off-season workouts with the Chiefs, he says he can’t wait to get back on the field.
“I was itching the day after the A-F-C championship game to get back to football. Watching the Super Bowl, I kind of watched it. But at the same time, I couldn’t watch it because I was so disappointed that we weren’t there. And then this whole off-season is just training and trying to restrain myself from throwing too much, restraining myself from doing too much because it’s a steady process and you don’t want to peak too soon. You want to make sure that you’re building and building. And that’s the thing when you’re that close, you want to get back in the building and get right back after it.”
Maybe one possession away from knocking off one of the league’s greatest dynasties in the New England Patriots, and reaching the promised land of pro football, Mahomes has one goal in mind heading into 2019.
“Just winning the Super Bowl is my only goal. Honestly, I felt like that was my goal last year. And I feel like that’s my goal this year, and it will be every year. I mean when you look back on the season at the end of the season, you’re not gonna look at what your stats were, or what all that stuff was, is if you were holding that trophy at the end of the season or not.”
All while his close friends that he still maintains in contact with, even on game-days, cheer him on back home.
“We definitely get to, you know, kind of give him the confidence that he might need sometimes, say you know, you can do it. You know, you shouldn’t be scared. You shouldn’t be nervous about trying to push through it. And he has the same exact attitude. He wants it all. He wants to be a competitor, and he wants to win it all. So, you know, we’re glad to hear that from him. We’re glad to push him that way too,” said Cheatham.
Of course, with all of East Texas firmly behind him.
Mahomes and the Chiefs open OTA’s Tuesday May 21 in Kansas City.
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