KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes is quickly rising among the biggest sports fans among professional athletes.
From the Stanley Cup Finals to the Final Four and NBA games, Mahomes has no intent on hiding his passion.
Dating back to his high school days, the reigning NFL MVP also became fond of new teammate Tyrann Mathieu.
“He was a monster and still is. He’s a guy that’s able to do everything. He’s really good at every single aspect of football.”
Back in his days at LSU, the ‘Honey Badger’ jumped onto the scene as a ball-hawking safety who was also an electric returner on special teams, vaulting him into the discussion for a Heisman Trophy.
Now that he’s playing alongside the NFL MVP, he can admit his own fandom of his quarterback.
“He’s the MVP for a reason. The guy is a spectacular competitor, really an ultimate leader and can really make every throw on the football field,” Mathieu said. “He’s giving us his best shot every day. … Really hats off to him for such a young player. I’ve been around some pretty good quarterbacks and he’s one of the best.”
It hasn’t taken much time for Mathieu’s new head coach to learn what his Swiss Army Knife of a defender can bring to his team.
“I love his competitiveness,” Andy Reid said. “His instincts are incredible, they were at LSU, they are in the National Football League, and we’re seeing the same thing out here.”
Mathieu, who was dismissed from LSU in 2012, signed a three-year, $42 million deal with the Chiefs this offseason. He battled injuries in five seasons with the Cardinals and played all 16 games for Houston a season ago.
He recorded 89 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. Now he’s tasked with becoming the face of the defense.
“I’m really trying to learn the defense inside and out, (especially) the four positions in the back end,” Mathieu said. “But my teammates and my coaches put what they can on my plate. Me, as a professional, I go out here and do my job.”
Along with versatility to play from inside the box to the slot to on the back end of the secondary, Mathieu brings an edge and ferocity that has been absent from the Kansas City defense in recent years. No doubt the additions of Frank Clark, Bashaud Breeland and others will be major factors in the development of the unit, but he sees an identity forming.
“It’s really trying to build a defense with an attitude,” Mathieu said. “I think any time you can have 10 or 11 guys with a chip on their shoulder, with an edge, a certain kind of presence, a certain kind of attitude, a certain kind of swagger, you can create a collective identity and I think that’s really what we’re trying to do.”
While Mathieu says he’s always been quiet, he’s striving to become a vocal leader and take the younger players under his wing. That includes newly acquired linebacker Darron Lee, who came to the Chiefs in a trade with the Jets. Mathieu tweeted following the news, saying “Watch me take him to new level. Welcome to the kingdom!”
He puts that pressure on himself because of his own past.
“This is our sanctuary, our safe haven. The world outside this can be a lot tougher than we expect it to be,” Mathieu said. “Me as a leader, as a guy who’s been cut, humiliated and embarrassed, it’s important just to embrace the guys around you and support them and give them that confidence.
“Let them know that you believe in them and hopefully they get to believe in themselves again.”