For every one of the players participating in Super Bowl LV on February 7th, it will be the culmination of a dream that took at least two decades to achieve. The vision would have started at a local park, tossing a nerf football around, or at the nearby high school when practice was scheduled right after 9th period biology. Quite possibly, the fantasy of making it to the NFL and playing in sports’ biggest showcase may have started with a little kid watching the Super Bowl years ago next to his parents or siblings, wanting to someday be a part of it.
The quarterbacks of both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are no strangers to the big game, started out as wide eyed youths just like the rest of us. Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes have developed into megastars, but they didn’t just magically ascend to this stage overnight. Let’s take a closer look at how each spent their younger days growing up.
The quarterback with the most rings in NFL history started his life growing up in San Mateo, California. Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr was born in 1977, and arrived in this world just in time to watch his hometown San Francisco 49ers dominate the NFL in the 1980’s, and remain competitive in the 1990’s. At media day during Super Bowl LI, Brady divulged some of his fondest memories growing up as a kid, and spending time with his family.
“To have a chance to go to 49ers games on the weekends with him(his dad), my mom…throw the ball in the parking lot at the games, those are memories that I’ll have forever,” Brady recollected. Via Youtube Video
Even though we know Brady as arguably the greatest football player of all time, he grew up sharing his love of football with another sport. Baseball was also a huge passion of the young man from Northern California, as he was a standout player at Junipero Serra High School. In fact, Brady was so highly regarded that the Montreal Expos of Major League Baseball drafted him in 1995. NFL and MLB history could have turned out very differently had Brady decided to pursue a career in the major leagues. His razor sharp focus was apparent even as a high school prospect on the diamond, which is a trait that has served him tremendously in pro football.
“I don’t know if I can speak to(the talent), but the work ethic and the commitment to crafting his game I definitely think would have led him to have a pretty successful baseball career,” former Serra baseball teammate Dean Ayoob pontificated. Via Bleacher Report
While we’re on the topic of baseball, it’s hard to start the story of the all world Kansas City Chiefs quarterback without mentioning that he’s the son of Pat Mahomes senior, who was a Major League relief pitcher while his son was growing up. This gave the younger Mahomes a very unique and valuable look into the dynamic of professional sports locker rooms at an early age, as he rubbed elbows with big league players throughout his childhood. According to the Chiefs’ quarterback’s father, young Patrick was out in centerfield before the game during the 2000 World Series between the New York Yankees and New York Mets. The elder Mahomes was on the Mets, and let his 6 year old son try his hand at catching flyballs off of his teammates’ bats.
“The coaches were wary that he was going to get hit, but I told them if he gets hit one time, he will learn-then he won’t do it again,” Mahomes senior said. “As I was saying it, Robin Ventura(New York Mets third baseman) hit a ball out to left-center…It was the first time he caught a fly ball off a big leaguer’s bat.” Via Lubbockonline
Very similar to Brady, Mahomes dedication and work ethic was apparent as he grew up in Texas. While most of the children of the major leaguers Mahomes senior played with were happy frolicking in the outfield and wearing caps that were several sizes too big for their heads, the future Chiefs quarterback was actively picking the brain of professional pitchers to see how they put away hitters.
“Patrick was trying to figure out how I threw my fastball,” said LaTroy Hawkins, former Major League pitcher and Mahomes’ godfather. “He was talking to A-Rod asking how he can hit the ball to right field like he did…he wanted to be part of the culture we had in our clubhouse.” Via GQ.com
When watching the Super Bowl this Sunday, think about the journey each of those players has taken in their lives to get to that point, and the influence their parents, coaches and role models had on them in order to support their life goals.