The Magical Plays That Made Patrick Mahomes

The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback is reinventing his position before our eyes. Watch these plays to understand how.

MIAMI—For almost the entire history of football, the sport’s most important position was played more or less the same way. And then Patrick Mahomes came along and made everyone in football wonder how they could have been so wrong for such a long time.

If the Super Bowl is the first time you’re watching Mahomes play, you’re about to see football like never before. He throws off-balance, without looking and even left-handed. He’s the league’s reigning most valuable player. And he is one Kansas City Chiefs win from his first championship because he breaks every convention of how to play quarterback.

“People have said for years: ‘You can’t get away with doing that,’” said Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, who coached Mahomes at Texas Tech. “But if you’re that good, it doesn’t matter.”

This isn’t just the stuff of legend. One of the cool things about Mahomes being 24 years old is that his entire life in football (and other sports) has been chronicled by both iPhones and the most sophisticated camera technology that a billion-dollar television deal can buy. These are the plays that reveal the ways in which he experimented with crazy ideas about the most effective way to throw a football.

The Escape
Patrick Mahomes escapes a tackle and throws a touchdown pass in high school. PHOTO: DFW INSIDE HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

The final high-school football game of his senior year would turn out to be a preview of Mahomes’s time at Texas Tech and now with the Chiefs. Football was beginning to change dramatically in favor of the offense, and it was becoming clear that winning meant scoring more points than anyone ever imagined. This game offered a peek at how teams with Mahomes would keep scoreboard operators busy for many years to come.

Almost every teenage quarterback in Texas would have been sacked if he found himself in the arms of a linebacker named Malik Jefferson, who would one day play in the NFL himself. But not Mahomes. He escaped, scrambled and flung a touchdown pass off his back foot into the arms of Jake Parker. Few plays to this day better exemplify the ability to bring his imagination to life.

“You’re thinking during the play: How in the world does he keep doing that?” says Adam Cook, his coach at Whitehouse High School. “Those are things he did in high school and he’s continuing to do them now.”

But that wasn’t the only lesson NFL teams would have learned if they’d studied tape of this particular high-school game. Cook said it was representative of one of his most useful attributes as a modern quarterback.

“His ability to extend plays with his feet,” he said. “The difference is whenever he does buy time, he’s not doing it to run the ball. He’s doing it to throw the ball down the field.”

The Basketball Pass
Patrick Mahomes shows off his football skills—on the basketball court. PHOTO: COURTESY OF BRENT KELLEY

Mahomes played his last football game on a Friday, joined the basketball team for practice the following Monday and played his first game of his senior year on Tuesday. This was not unusual—Mahomes is a case study for the virtues of playing multiple sports at a time when kids are pressured to specialize at earlier ages—but what happened next was.

A headband-wearing Mahomes secured a rebound underneath his own basket with two defenders swarming him as he was falling out of bounds. There was nowhere for him to go and nothing for him to do. Or at least that’s how it looked to everyone in the gym.

But with his body horizontal and his momentum dragging him in the opposite direction, Mahomes whipped a sidearm pass across half the court, over the entire defense and into the hands of Jake Parker for a layup—the very same Jake Parker who caught his touchdown pass a few days earlier.

It showed his awareness, his vision, his arm strength and finesse, his audacity to believe that he could make this pass and his deftness to actually pull it off. This was Mahomes, the football player, in one magnificent basketball play.

“It was one of those plays that you’ll never forget,” said Brent Kelley, his basketball coach.

The Improv Act

Kingsbury recruited Mahomes and Mahomes chose Texas Tech because they shared a vision. Kingsbury’s “Air Raid” offense gave Mahomes the structure to play an unstructured, almost improvisational form of football.

The play that illustrates this came in the first game of his first season as a full-time starter. He took the snap. He ran to his right. He ran backwards. He ran to his left. And then he threw a touchdown pass across his body.

He still just plays this free style of game,” Kingsbury said. “When it’s off schedule, that’s when the magic happens.”

The Lefty Pass

Mahomes throws with his right hand. Except for the time he threw with his left hand.

Early in the 2018 season, the Chiefs trailed 23-20 to the Broncos late in the fourth quarter, and Mahomes saw the unwelcome sight of Von Miller. He darted to his left, approaching the sideline with one of the NFL’s best pass rushers chasing his ankles, and soon Mahomes was out of space. There was only one way to get the pass from one point to another: He switched the ball from his right hand to his left.

“Whoa,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.

Tyreek Hill caught the lefty pass for a first down on a drive that resulted in a touchdown—and a Kansas City win.

The No-Look
Mahomes pulled off one of his most absurd feats when he turned a basketball move into a football one: He threw a no-look pass. Quarterbacks routinely look one way and then pass the other to throw off defenders. Mahomes did it at the same time.

After scrambling away from the Baltimore Ravens last year, Mahomes stepped forward in the pocket and kept his eyes trained on the center of the field. But when the ball left his hand, it went nowhere near the center of the field. It looked so unusual that the only reasonable explanation was that the ball was severely misthrown. His teammates knew better. They had seen him attempt these every day in practice.

“We knew it was going to happen at some point,” said Chiefs quarterback coach Mike Kafka. “We didn’t know when.”

The pass hit wide receiver Demarcus Robinson in the chest for a 17-yard gain. Mahomes needed the safety to move over, he said afterward, and he trusted Robinson would be in the right place. Robinson didn’t even know it was a no-look pass until he saw it on film afterward. “Everyone was talking about it like, ‘Bro, did you see that? How did he do that?’” Robinson says. “I was like, ‘Do what?’”

The Run
NFL defenders began to learn that Mahomes running and throwing usually results in them being embarrassed. Now they’re realizing that Mahomes can run—and keep running.

The Tennessee Titans became aware of this in the AFC Championship. Kansas City trailed Tennessee, 17-14, in the second quarter when Mahomes found himself in trouble. Then he pulled off a disappearing act: outrunning defenders in the backfield, juking another with a subtle cock of his head and dragging a few more into the end zone for the longest touchdown run of his career. It wasn’t just another play for high-school and college players to tell their friends about. It was a play that would catapult the Chiefs to the Super Bowl.

So how does he do all of it?

“A magician never reveals his tricks,” Mahomes once said.

Florida Prosecutors Offer to Drop Charges Against Patriots Owner Robert Kraft

The proposed deal, however, calls for Kraft to admit he would have been found guilty at trial

Florida prosecutors have offered to drop charges against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and a number of other men charged with soliciting prostitution, according to a person familiar with the matter, but there is a catch. The proposed agreement calls for the men to admit they would have been proven guilty at trial.

The proposed deferred prosecution agreement calls for completion of an education course about prostitution, completion of 100 hours of community service, screening for sexually transmitted diseases and payment of some court costs.

But in an unusual provision, the agreement also calls for the defendants to review the evidence in the case and agree that, if it were to go to trial, the state would be able to prove their guilt, this person said. It isn’t clear whether Mr. Kraft and others would accept such a condition. When the charges were announced, a spokesman for Mr. Kraft denied he engaged in illegal activity.

A spokesman for the state attorney’s office said that it is the standard resolution for first-time offenders, or they go to trial. A spokeswoman for the Jupiter Police Department did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Mr. Kraft, whose Patriots won the Super Bowl in February, was one of more than two dozen men charged with solicitation last month in Jupiter as part of a multi-city investigation into multiple South Florida spas. One of those locations was Orchids of Asia Day Spa, which Mr. Kraft allegedly visited and received sex acts. Prosecutors charged him with two counts of soliciting prostitution, acts they say were caught on video surveillance. Mr. Kraft has pleaded not guilty.

Legal experts have raised questions about the tactics Jupiter, Fla., police used in obtaining search warrants for an investigation they said was intended to stop a growing human trafficking problem.

Prosecutors and law-enforcement officials had described the investigation as a probe into human trafficking and portrayed the men who patronized the spas as contributing to the demand for sex slavery. In announcing the charges, Dave Aronberg, the state attorney for Palm Beach County, had called human trafficking “evil in our midst,” echoing the rhetoric of law-enforcement officials.

But no one has been charged with human trafficking in the case. Prosecutors’ affidavits have not detailed evidence of human trafficking at Orchids of Asia Day Spa.

“The police are making this case that this is a major human trafficking ring, and that’s why it’s so serious,” said Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor and managing partner of Tucker Levin, PLLC who is not connected to the case. “The fact that they had cameras installed in the locations for so long somewhat undermines the claim that there was an extraordinary danger to the people working in the establishment.

Prosecutors alleged they saw Mr. Kraft, 77 years old, enter Orchids of Asia Day Spa, located in a small strip mall, on two occasions and saw him pay cash and receive sex acts. He was identified in a traffic stop after his first visit on Jan. 19, when he was the passenger in a vehicle, and visited the spa again the next day, before the Patriots played the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.

At least one of the women Mr. Kraft was alleged to have engaged with was an operator of the spa, while both were licensed, according to Florida Department of Health records.

Mr. Kraft could still face punishment from the NFL, which has said in regards to him that the league’s “personal conduct policy applies equally to everyone.” The league said it would “take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts.”

The league has previously disciplined players in cases where they were not prosecuted.

“I think Kraft’s biggest problem is going to be NFL management,” said David Weinstein, a Miami lawyer and former prosecutor in the Southern District of Florida. “Their standards are far lower than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The Super Bowl That Trump’s America Deserves

I’m not really sure why they’re bothering with a Super Bowl this year. Sure, a bunch of people will make a boatload of money, tens of millions of us will reflexively tune in and we’ll find rare common ground over how cheesy the halftime show is. But are we believers anymore? Will we really see the winner as the winner — or just as the charmed survivor of a grossly tarnished process? Be it the New England Patriots or the Los Angeles Rams, the team will have an asterisk after its name. And that asterisk is a big fat sign of the times.

I’m referring, of course, to the miserable officiating that’s arguably the reason the Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs and the Rams beat the New Orleans Saints, leading to the matchup in this coming Sunday’s season-finale game. The Rams in particular were blessed by the referees, who failed to note and penalize a glaring case of pass interference in the climactic minutes. I needn’t describe what happened. Footage of it has been replayed as extensively and analyzed as exhaustively as the Zapruder film.

And it has prompted an intensity of protest, a magnitude of soul searching and a depth of cynicism that go well beyond the crime in question. That’s where the feelings about the Super Bowl and the mood of America converge.

We’re still reeling from a presidential election that was colored if not corrupted by unfair advantages, undue meddling and disrespected rules, and here we have a Super Bowl that’s colored if not corrupted by unfair advantages, undue meddling and disrespected rules. Many fans are rejecting its legitimacy — sound familiar? There are conspiracy theories afoot.

Americans are so down on, and distrustful of, major institutions and authorities that we’re primed to declare their fraudulence, and the National Football League and the Super Bowl are on the receiving end of that. They’re not fresh targets, not by any stretch. But this time we’ve lost all sense of perspective.

.. The missed pass-interference call in the clash between the Rams and Saints was certainly egregious, but every football game is a compendium of good and bad breaks; luck is always a factor and often the deciding one. The Saints had home-field advantage, and their fans created enough noise to addle and even paralyze the Rams on offense. The Saints also made errors galore, blowing the possibility of a lead too commanding to be erased by poor officiating. On a recent episode of his podcast, the sports commentator Bill Simmons methodically broke down the game en route to this conclusion: “I really thought the Rams were better.” He added that “if that’s a neutral field, I think the Rams win.”

That the Rams did win, with an assist from somnambulistic referees, has not gone over well in New Orleans. The Louisiana governor wrote a letterof condemnation to N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell. The New Orleans City Council is considering a formal resolution declaring the outcome an “injustice” and demanding that the N.F.L. thoroughly review its rules. One of Louisiana’s senators has called for a congressional hearing on the matter.

Several Saints ticket holders have filed lawsuits against the N.F.L., variously claiming that they have endured mental anguish, lost the enjoyment of life and been defrauded by the league. A movement in New Orleans to boycott the Super Bowl involves the staging of competing events, vows by many bars not to show the game and pledges by many other bars to show, instead, the 2010 Super Bowl, in which the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts.

Veterans don’t get to decide what ‘respecting the flag’ means

Our service doesn’t entitle us to get offended by Kapaernick’s choices or anybody else’s.

This reasoning is rooted in a premise that is both wrong and dangerous. If kneeling for the anthem and the flag is a direct offense toward the military, that means veterans have a stronger claim to these symbols than Americans in general do. The argument insists that American iconography represents us more than it represents anyone else.

Yet the flag is not a symbol reserved for the military. It is a symbol of the United States of America, and it belongs equally to all citizens, including Americans who kneel during the anthem, or those who wear flag shirts (which is also in violation of the unenforceable flag code), or even those who burn the flag.

.. We are not an elite class of citizen elevated above our neighbors. When we start thinking of ourselves as a warrior caste, removed from the people we defend, we exacerbate the civilian-military divide. We indulge in an entitlement mentality that isn’t healthy, demanding special treatment, such as discounts or restrictions on fireworks that might upset vets with post-traumatic stress disorder. The message is, You’re welcome for my service .

.. We should be able to dislike something without seeing it as a personal affront. We should be able to oppose something without becoming frothy-mouthed and obsessed, as some veterans online have done over Nike’s ads. We should embrace Special Forces veteran Nate Boyer’s insistence that we show compassion for those we don’t agree with, while also acknowledging that everyone is free to boycott and destroy their Nike gear as they see fit.

.. What’s more, believing that we have a special claim to the flag conflicts with the fundamental values of the armed forces, which elevate service over self. Serving is an honor the American people grant us, and it is Americans — in their totality — whom we serve. This does not give us license to appropriate national symbols as our own exclusive banners. Service is a privilege, not a way to purchase greater moral authority.

Beto O’Rourke gets more attention than any other 2018 candidate. Will it translate to votes?

 He’s certainly the only politician to ever be interviewed by GQ, Town & Country, Politico and Ethan Hawke.

His is a candidacy born of the Trump era, testing whether the left can have an equal and opposite reaction to the 2016 presidential election, and whether the best way to achieve that goal is to figure out the memeing of life.

.. O’Rourke is betting that by broadcasting himself on a live stream while campaigning in places he isn’t supposed to show up and saying things he isn’t supposed to say, he can encourage new voters to go to the polls, and even win over some Republicans who may not agree with him on all issues.

“I’m really surprised by how well Trump was able to leverage his popularity and the fact that everybody did know him, and there was this thing they liked about him,” O’Rourke said in an interview.

.. O’Rourke has become the kind of reality-show character that thousands of people watch eat a hamburger (46,000 Facebook views), skateboard through a parking lot (161,000 views), do his laundry (44,000 views) or answer questions at his town halls about, for example, NFL players who kneel during the national anthem. (That one has been seen by tens of millions.)

.. Being on all the time — on TV, on for interviews, on live stream in the car — has helped make him famous. But can it make him a senator?

.. O’Rourke’s campaign is a throwback with a modern twist. He’s driving a pickup truck to every county. He’s knocking on thousands of doors and reciting the same stump speech thousands of times. He’s John McCain on the “Straight Talk Express” circa 2000, only now anyone watching O’Rourke’s live stream can come along for the ride.

.. The sophisticated candidate, while analyzing his own on-the-air technique as carefully as a golf pro studies his swing, should still state frequently that there is no place for . . . ‘public relations gimmicks,’ ”

.. he knew his low name recognition presented a challenge. But it also came with the opportunity to introduce himself however he wanted. By bringing the live stream into the equation, he hoped voters might see a person — a person who burps, swears, listens to music and has a family — and not just a politician.

.. It’s a gimmick but one that does come with some moral high ground: he’s able to say honestly that he doesn’t pal around with admen and has restricted access to political hired guns. And by not accepting money from political action committees or special interests, he can say he’s not being bought off. For years, O’Rourke wasn’t the type of candidate who could get billionaires to throw money his way, so why not, in his words, “turn a necessity into a virtue?”

.. like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) used to do, he brags onstage about his small-dollar donations, “33 bucks” to Sanders’s oft-repeated “27 dollars.”

.. He then tried to flee the scene before being arrested.

Ultimately, the charges were dismissed, a fact O’Rourke says probably had a lot to do with him being white.

.. Take his most viral moment of the campaign so far: his support for NFL players who kneel during the national anthem. “Reasonable people can disagree” on the issue, he said in a town hall, but he personally finds the peaceful protests aiming to “point out that black men, unarmed, black teenagers, unarmed, and black children, unarmed, are being killed at a frightening level right now” to be in line with the nonviolent movement led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and Rosa Parks, and in that way “can think of nothing more American.”

..  it also gives ammunition for one of his opponents’ favorite attacks: that O’Rourke is an out-of-touch liberal, more Hollywood than Houston (“Most Texans stand for the flag, but Hollywood liberals are so excited that Beto is siding with NFL players protesting the national anthem that Kevin Bacon just retweeted it,” Cruz tweeted. “That means all of us can now win Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon!”). And as for the NFL video? Well, Cruz made a rough cut of it and has started showing that at his own rallies as a way to rile up his base.

.. It can be easy, then, to imagine how Cruz will take advantage of O’Rourke’s live stream. His team has already pieced together a 30-second video of O’Rourke leting curse words fly on the trail. They could highlight every time he doesn’t know the answer to a question at a town hall to paint him as unprepared, or, as they’ve done already, use the NFL video to say he doesn’t support veterans. Tracking your opponent has long been part of political tradecraft, and in this case, O’Rourke could be broadcasting his own opposition research.

.. “He interviewed me that whole time, and all he used was that f—ing line about dead armadillos?”

.. sometimes he’ll talk for 45 minutes, and the takeaway will be a quote about roadkill, much to his annoyance.

Straining to Keep Faith With America

Among the events of John McCain’s five-and-a-half years of imprisonment and torture in North Vietnam, probably the most heroic, and surely the most celebrated, was his refusal to accept an early release from his captors.

“I knew that every prisoner the Vietnamese tried to break, those who had arrived before me and those who would come after me, would be taunted with the story of how an admiral’s son had gone home early, a lucky beneficiary of America’s class-conscious society,” McCain recalled in “Faith of My Fathers,” his 1999 memoir. “I knew that my release would add to the suffering of men who were already straining to keep faith with their country.”

.. They strain to keep faith with America when the attorney general weaponizes the terror of children and the desperation of parents in order to pursue his vision of immigration policy.

.. They strain to keep faith when the president rains scorn on our closest allies at summits in Canada and Belgium, and follows each performance with epic displays of obsequiousness toward a North Korean mass murderer and a Russian assassin.

.. They strain to keep faith when the vice president publicly walks out of a football stadium because players bend a knee in silent protest of racial injustice just two months after the president loudly defended white nationalists at Charlottesville as “some very fine people.”

..  An American president who, in matters of both character and conviction, was low and vapid and mean-spirited and bottomlessly dishonorable — McCain’s opposite in every respect.

 

 

Call out his lies. He depends on them.

just calling out deceit is insufficient. It is essential as well to understand why Trump tells particular lies at particular moments and to be hardheaded in judging how effective they are.

.. Republicans on the ballot this fall should be asked if they see Pelosi as an “MS-13 lover,” and if not, whether they will denounce Trump for saying such a thing. I am not holding my breath.

.. Yet sometimes Trump engages in a perverse form of transparency. He signaled clearly that the whole point of his screed — during which he also re-upped his claim that Mexico would pay for his border wall — was about the midterm elections. Immigration, he said, is “a good issue for us, not for them.”

.. Why immigration? It’s not the central concern of most voters. A Gallup survey in May found that 10 percent of Americans listed it as the most important problem facing the country. And Trump’s wall is not popular — in a recent CBS News poll, 59 percent of Americans were against building it.

.. But currently, Trump and the Republicans aren’t focused on the majority of Americans. They are petrified that their own loyalists do not seem very motivated about voting in November.
..  just 26 percent of Americans strongly approved of Trump’s job performance, compared with 41 percent who strongly disapproved.
.. Trump and his party feel they need to screech loudly to get their side back into the game, and attacking immigration (going back to Mexican “rapists”) is the signature Trump talking point.
.. Republican House candidates are following Trump’s lead, according to a USA Today study published Tuesday, “blanketing the airwaves with TV ads embracing a hard line on immigration.” By contrast, health care was the topic most invoked in Democratic spots. The GOP’s emphasis may shift some after the primaries, but Republicans seem to know that wedge issues are more useful to them than their record.

.. Political polarization has many sources, but the prime cause of it now is the president himself. Polarization defines Trump’s survival strategy, and it means that demagoguery

  • toward immigrants,
  • toward crime,
  • toward special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe,
  • toward dissenting NFL players,
  • toward anyone who takes him on
— is what his presidency is all about.
.. What thus needs exposing is not simply Trump’s indifference to the truth but also the fact that he depends upon the kinds of lies that will tear our country to pieces.