By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
Known to never forget, an elephant’s keen memory seems to be just an ancillary trait survival-wise for a creature that, when fully grown, can crush just about any other mammal with a thoughtless step.
A Mahomes (Patrick to be exact), doesn’t seem to forget easily either. That seems to be fine for him, but his ability to read defenses and dissect them with any thoughtful twist of the arm and flick of the wrist is what makes him King of the NFL jungle right now.
The defending MVP, the 10th pick in the 2017 NFL draft (as opposed to the 2nd pick) was on one against the Chicago Bears in his Kansas City Chiefs’ 26-3 win over our hapless and helpless professional football team Sunday night.
Moreso, Patrick Mahomes was on 1 through 10, the numbers that were called before his name in the draft, they were on his mind in this game, and how couldn’t they have been? We in the media certainly weren’t going to let him forget, but maybe he didn’t even need all that.
We’re familiar here in Chicago with the long, somewhat psychopathic, memory of a transcendent sports great. Michael Jordan didn’t let a damn thing go in his sporting life and it led him to be the most tireless competitor in modern team sports, it wound up providing him a legacy that he still bests seemingly athletic superiors with to this day because they don’t have the same drive and/or self-critical mania that could make men who’ve already accomplished so much accomplish even more in the face of endless challengers.
Outwardly, Mahomes doesn’t show himself to be motivated to excel in quite the same way as Mike, he’s been quite affable in his media interactions and State Farm commercials (funny how that brand seems to gravitate so much to QBs who hurt Chicago so much…) but as an elite athlete himself he’s known what its like to be overlooked in such a way that it is inexpiable.
For every Jordan there’s a Sam Bowie, and now for every Mahomes there’s a Mitchell Trubisky. Mitch won’t likely establish himself among the all-time greats in football, but he now represents a model of missing with high-stakes involved that all NFL franchises will try to avoid from here on out.
Meanwhile, there’s no limit really to the kind of contributions Mahomes can make to pro football. Maybe he doesn’t bring a slew of championships to the Kansas/Missouri border, but he’s already done impossible things in a very short time of play and he continues to do so with a righteousness on his side that only comes from the truly visionary.
Everything that he’s shown of himself in his record-breaking first two years of NFL play, Mahomes knew he had on the night that KC traded up in that draft and saved him from any further embarrassment in front of a league full of talent scouts who didn’t know what to do with him.
Only a certified quarterback-training OG like Andy Reid knew, and he made sure his team knew, that they couldn’t leave that draft without Mahomes. Oh, to only have that kind of decision-making and vision in Chicago…it’s only the most important position in the damn sport.
And so it seems like another generation of Bears fans will grow into adulthood not knowing exactly what elite QB play looks like in their favorite jersey. They know what it looks like from our rivals though, and they know what it looks like from a one-in-a-generation talent, just take your pick: Mahomes, Watson, Jackson. All could have been had by the Bears, all were passed up by a clueless franchise.
The once-in-a-generation guys are more in abundance than ever and Chicago still can’t have one of its own. The Bears can try to approximate the environment that spawns elite play from QBs but what they’re doing just doesn’t work and it doesn’t seem to stand a chance to work unless drastic changes are made within the organization, leaving drastic adjustments in philosophy and execution in its wake.
Just like elephants and elite athletes, fans don’t forget. We forgive a lot, and like dummies, are ready to forgive at the slight sight of improvement. At one point Trubisky may have seemed like he resembled improvement but we’ve since come to know that he isn’t improvement and he likely never will be improvement.
Though all the blame can’t be levied on Trubisky, he’s still been able to bask in the glory of being a No. 2 pick, he’s cashed the checks that came with being picked at that position while not providing any of the results desired of one.
In a more sensible world, the guy who shows some promise would be overlooked, he’d have the reason to count his fingers off at those who put him to the side. Maybe being put in that position would have made him better able to live up to his capabilities, while the obviously talented guy goes to the place where his talents were most needed.
Not much makes sense in Halas Hall though, a place where tradition and history stands tall over the present. Games already played providing the only warmth of accomplishment while today’s game — and those who define it for years to come — keep passing the franchise by.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR