KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The red No. 15 Mahomes jerseys were impossible to miss in the days and hours before Patrick Mahomes tried to take the torch from Tom Brady on Sunday night and get the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 49 years.
This is the way it is when a city falls in love with a young franchise quarterback, the way it was around Broadway when Jets fans wore Joe Namath’s 12, the way it was in Miami when Dolphins fans wore Dan Marino’s 13, the way it is in New England as Patriots fans continue to wear Brady’s 12, and so on and so forth.
Inside McFadden’s Sports Saloon on Saturday night, it wasn’t difficult finding those red 15 Mahomes jerseys.
Dean Andag flew in from Vancouver for the Patriots-Chiefs AFC Championship.
“It’s the hope that he gives,” Andag said. “No disrespect to Alex Smith or anything, he was a serviceable quarterback, but when you need the score, and the ball’s in Mahomes’ hand, you have the utmost confidence. It’s that hope that he gives, that confidence that he gives.”
Montana Joe Geisinger, seated at the bar, drove from Minnesota for the game. His father named him after Joe Montana.
“We’ve waited our lives for a franchise quarterback,” Geisinger said, “and he’s that.”
Geisinger was born in 1995. “[Joe] Montana played for us in ‘93, ‘94, so I was born right when he was playing for us,” he said. “That’s how big of a Chiefs he is.”
His father, Richard, grew up in Iowa a Chiefs fan and always loved Montana. Now he loves Mahomes.
“I think he’s gonna be better than Joe Montana,” Geisinger said. “He’s so calm under pressure, nothing riles him. He’s gonna set records for the rest of his life.”
Joey Kenney is a Chiefs season-ticket holder.
“The play’s never dead,” Kenney said. “He runs around, he’ll throw with his left hand, he’ll throw it underhand, it’s crazy. It’s electrifying. It’s crazy.”
Mikayla Jensen will be marrying Kenney in June.
“We’re gonna name our first son Patrick if they win,” Kenney said.
“No we’re not!” she said.
“And our dog’s gonna be named Mahomes,” he said.
“The dog’s OK,” she said, and laughed.
Hunter Kenney flew in from Tyler, Texas. It happens to be Mahomes’ hometown.
“He’s young, well-spoken and electrifying, and we never had a quarterback, so …”
“As Chiefs fans, you always think something bad’s gonna happen all the time, and with him you think something good could actually happen every play,” his brother Jerry Kenney added.
The brothers were standing around the table, not wearing 15 jerseys. Emily Echlin, seated at the table, wore hers.
“I’m 24 and he’s younger than me, and I’m just like, ‘How could someone that young be that good already?” she said.
Ben Hughes, who grew up in Kansas City, took a 14-hour bus ride from Nashville to get to the AFC Championship.
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“He’s been everything we’ve always looked for as a quarterback,” Hughes said. “We’ve always had other teams’ quarterbacks, we’ve never drafted an Aaron Rodgers, we’ve never drafted a Tom Brady. … He’s really electrified this team. It’s really wonderful. And I told myself coming into this season, like, I’m not gonna fall in love with the kid ‘cause I didn’t know really what we were getting. And, man, has he just turned me over! Now I’m just all Mahomes now, all the time.”
Andrew Vassallo, who was from Manalapan, N.J., drove eight hours from Denver. He was wearing a Smith 11 jersey.
“We’ve been waiting for an electric quarterback like Mahomes,” he said. “I love Alex Smith, but Mahomes has taken it to another level.”
Isaac Samek would be sitting in Section 111 on Sunday.
“We’ve never had a quarterback like him before,” Samek said. “Alex Smith was good, but he’s not Patrick Mahomes, you know? Mahomes, it’s third-and-10, he’ll throw it, first down, it’s not a big deal, right? He’s just different. I think everyone sees that he’s different.”
Ryan Wedermyer is 23.
“He’s so relatable,” Wedermyer said. “Like, you just look at him and he just looks like one of us. He’s someone that you feel you can sit down and have a Coke with and eat a good dinner and have a nice conversation. It’s really appealing.”
Red 15 Mahomes jerseys everywhere. Love Story in Kansas City.