The last time the nation saw Patrick Mahomes, he was riding around in a golf cart, doing a victory lap at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
Mahomes, a Whitehouse native, was named Super Bowl MVP after leading the Kansas City Chiefs to a come-from-behind, 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
He was wearing a gray Super Bowl champion T-shirt over his jersey and shoulder pads as he waved to the crowd.
When he ducked into the tunnel to celebrate with his teammates, he also had his post-game media obligations and, more important, his post-game celebration with family and friends.
With eyes screaming no sleep, Mahomes sat quietly in a chair at 8:30 a.m. at a press conference announcing the Tampa team taking over the Super Bowl for next year. Then he watched Chiefs coach Andy Reid talk to the media.
To his right was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and to his left were Mickey and Minnie Mouse, who would talk about Mahomes going to Disney World for a parade and Make-A-Wish visit.
Wearing a red Chiefs “Show Time” T-shirt, black pants and sneakers, he finally looked relaxed.
Despite sitting next to one of the most powerful men in the world and sports, despite having 148.5 million people watching him on TV the night before and now facing the press again as MVP, he thought about home.
Whitehouse, Tyler and East Texas became household names for reporters all week in Miami, and those questions continued on Monday. Writers from Chicago, Miami and ESPN all asked about his roots.
One reporter asked, “You had a few of your high school friends here and your high school coach here. Did you feel that removed from Whitehouse, Texas? You have that connection.”
Mahomes, who it seems graduated from Whitehouse yesterday and is now the reigning NFL MVP, said, “I’ve been blessed to be in great communities, growing up in Whitehouse, Texas, then going to Lubbock, Texas, and now in Kansas City.”
He then talked about his friends who sat in the front row of the tunnel entrance, almost giving him a sense of home as he ran on and off the field. Also in the stands was former Whitehouse football coach Adam Cook (now the Whitehouse athletic director).
“I’ve been around a lot of great people who have supported me all the way through,” said Mahomes, then turning to the reporter, “You said it, I had my high school coach here, I have a lot of my high school friends at the game and they showed me support all the way through and I’m glad they were here for this moment.”
Mahomes was asked about his first-ever comeback playing football. He talked about a victory over “powerhouse John Tyler,” and added, “It’s where Earl Campbell went to high school!” He talked about competition and playing to the final whistle.
Mahomes was also asked about his unique quarterback style, and he said he’s been blessed to play for Cook and tied it into his current coach, Reid.
“I’ve been blessed, I mean, even from high school with coach Cook, letting me be who I am, letting me scramble around, throw the ball, do what I do then going to Texas Tech and coach Kliff Kingsbury, same way,” Mahomes said.
He said his quarterback coaches at Kansas City work on fundamentals, but they are “still letting me be who I am and I think that having all those coaches that have supported me and let me be who I am has helped me get to where I’m at today.”
Who he is? A small-town kid who made his town famous thanks to his performance and a couple Adidas commercials.
He was finally asked, “What can you do to top this?”
His tired eyes opened wide as he answered, “Win another one. I mean, that’s it.”
With that, he rushed off the Disney World in Orlando, another reminder he’s still that kid from Whitehouse.
John Anderson is the editor of the Tyler Morning Telegraph. He can be reached at email@example.com.