How Patrick Mahomes Became the Superstar the NFL Needs Right Now

This is not to suggest that Mahomes didn’t capitalize on any of the perks afforded a megastar Super Bowl winner. For instance, the day that the Chiefs paraded their Super Bowl trophy through Kansas City, Post Malone happened to be playing in town. What better way to extend the party? “We didn’t buy tickets,” Mahomes says. “But once we won the Super Bowl, we’re kinda like, ‘Can we get a suite?’” (They could.)

The rapper invited the quarterback to swing by for a quick hello before the show. The courteous Mahomes brought along a jersey “as a thank-you for having us out.” As Mahomes and his teammate Travis Kelce sized up the scene backstage, Post challenged the two to a friendly game of beer pong. (“I guess he loves beer pong,” Mahomes points out. And Bud Light. “That’s, like, his thing.”)

Post’s invitation turned out to be ill-advised. Mahomes and Kelce are the most effective quarterback-tight end duo in the NFL, and apparently they’re capable of doing as much damage on a sad-looking folding table backstage at a concert as they do on the field on Sundays. Though Mahomes described his beer pong game that night as merely good, he told me Kelce had been “unconscious.” When I asked him about it, Kelce said, “I don’t know if I’ve been that hot on the pong table ever in my life.”

As the pair rallied off a series of quick wins, Post Malone—wearing his brand-new Patrick Mahomes jersey, red like the Solo cups on the table—grew increasingly ruffled. (In an email, the rapper admitted to me that he’s a “pretty fucking competitive beer pong player.”) Post tried switching partners. He played with a buddy. Then another. He teamed up with Swae Lee, who had joined Post on tour.

After nine or ten games, Post is interrupted by his manager. It’s time, he’s told, to take the stage. But Post waves him off. He needs to win a game. Finally, around the 14th or 15th game, Post decides he needs to up the stakes. He hands a piece of paper to Mahomes and Kelce, and he asks them to write their signatures, and he promises to tattoo the autographs onto his body—you know, like, permanently—if they can beat him again. Dilly dilly!

Surely you know how this ends: Post loses. “He has a tattoo artist literally in the room,” recalls Mahomes, who sounds alarmed even in retrospect. “I’m like, ‘Dude, you do not actually have to get a tattoo of our autographs.’ ” And certainly, by now, you know this too: Post Malone is a man of his word, and gets his new tattoo done backstage, immediately after the show, inking onto himself a squiggly Patrick Mahomes autograph that looks like it had been written by someone who’d been drinking all day to be tattooed onto someone who’d been drinking all day. In asking Mahomes about that epic day, I set the over/under at 20 beers, to which he replied, “Way over,” but added that he doesn’t “know how many full beers I drank, because half the beers were on my clothes.” For his part, Post Malone told me he “thinks” it’s the only tat that ended up on his body as a result of a lost bet.

Fans of rival teams might be disappointed that Mahomes hasn’t spent this off-season on the typical victory lap: doing press, hobnobbing with famous people, perfecting his beer pong game. Of course he hasn’t. He’s been judicious with his time, even compared with a year ago. He told me that last off-season, after he’d won MVP, he’d overextended himself, saying yes to “all these things that I wanted to do but I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity to do.” He said he’d ended up burning out on commercials, banquets, and appearances. Now isolation has given Mahomes the thing he really wanted more of: time. In his post-Super Bowl press conference—after winning the most consequential sports contest in the world at age 24 and thus earning the right to say something outrageous—Mahomes summed up, in pretty sober terms, the outlook that seemed to account for his preposterously quick rise to the top: “I believe in maximizing every single day.”