KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four summers ago, I made the pilgrimage to Whitehouse, Texas, to work on a “Beyond the arm” piece about Patrick Mahomes just as he was surfacing to superstardom with the Chiefs.
Through interviews with people who’ve known him for years, a striking composite picture emerged. It’s informed how I’ve perceived him ever since but still amazes me.
The traits that make Mahomes a generational talent on the field and a truly special person off it are entwined if not, in fact, exactly the same.
His “superpowers” in any situation, as forever trainer Bobby Stroupe put it then, include real-time problem-solving capability. And as described by Chad Parker, a longtime close family friend, Mahomes is guided by a “geospatial magic box” — a term Parker derived from national intelligence concepts and suggested makes for instant analysis of all around him ... and what to do about it.
Put it all together, and it speaks to an uncanny consciousness of where he is and feel for what he can and can’t control and sixth sense about how to proceed.
All of which brings us to the matter of how he’s contending with the allegations against his younger brother, Jackson, who earlier this month in Johnson County District Court was charged with three felony counts of aggravated sexual battery and a misdemeanor account of battery.
“Honestly, it’s kind of a personal thing that I’m just kind of going to keep to myself,” he said on Wednesday during the Chiefs’ voluntary organized team activity session. “I mean, at the end of the day, I come here to play football and try to take care of my family at the same time.
“So I just kind of keep it to myself and just go out there and play football when I’m in the building.”
I’m not sure what I expected him to say when I asked him about it. I just knew it would be thoughtful and respectful and enlightening in some way or another. And it was — even if he didn’t elaborate.
Simply put, I believe he recognized the adage that discretion is the better part of valor. And that he took into account all affected by the situation, including the alleged victim.
And he knew that the most decent and sensitive approach would be to effectively not comment.
Rather than perhaps speak too candidly. Or suggest anything that makes it about him instead of the serious situation it is. Or get trapped in words that might be misconstrued one way or another.
Mahomes seldom is reluctant to engage a topic, by the way, even difficult ones. For that matter, few offer more detailed self-criticism than the two-time NFL and Super Bowl MVP does when something goes awry on the field.
But his approach to this reflects the sophistication of having a process, instinctive or otherwise, for knowing when and how to address any given situation.
“I think that’s a process everyone has to navigate in life,” he said. “Obviously, I’m on a bigger stage. But at the same time, it’s your family (and) you have to come in here and do a job. And that’s what I try to do every day.”
So, no, we don’t have any direct insight about what this is like for him.
But whatever he feels about the situation, it might be surmised that he has some means of reconciling it while staying on mission.
Because you can see it in how the grounded and driven husband and father of two remains zeroed in on galvanizing his team, evidenced by the ongoing flexibility about his contract he expressed so well on Wednesday and recently hosting his second annual “Camp Mahomes.” And how he’s otherwise staying locked in on maximizing his game — as was plain in his sheer sharpness during practice on Wednesday.
Even with two Super Bowl victories in three berths over the last four years, he’s as into it now as he’s ever been.
“He’s made that a habit, which is a positive thing …” coach Andy Reid said. “He’s 100 percent in and going after it. He challenges himself, and he challenges the guys around him to be great on both sides of the ball.
“So everything’s alive out there and moving fast.”
But never too fast, on or off the field, for Mahomes, the characteristic that sets him apart more than anything else.