PHOENIX – The words pierced through the heavy air from Cincinnati into the home of Pat Mahomes in Lindale, Texas, leaving him angry and annoyed and then amused but still planning the ultimate revenge.
Burrowhead Stadium. A paternity test to prove Joe Burrow is Patrick Mahomes' father.
Are you freakin’ kidding?
The mayor of Cincinnati, Aftab Pureval, would actually have the gall – or is it stupidity? –to taunt his son, Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro quarterback, before the AFC championship game against the Bengals?
"I wanted to get the last laugh, so I told Patrick and a couple of our friends that I was going to bring a cigar to Kansas City," Mahomes told USA TODAY Sports. "And when they won, I told Patrick I was going to light it right up, and smoke it."
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After Harrison Butker’s 45-yard field goal sent Kansas City to Super Bowl 57 with a 23-20 victory, Pat Mahomes danced, screamed and celebrated in the family suite and slowly took out the Montecristo cigar from his pocket. He stared at it for a moment, put the cigar to his mouth with his left hand, and took a puff for everyone to see.
"I told Patrick to do it too, but of course, I knew my son wouldn’t do it," Mahomes said. "That’s just not him.
"I had my friends do the same thing, too, it just wasn’t recorded and shown all over TV."
(Though Mahomes did wind up going viral for telling a reporter on the field that he was "smoking on that Joe Burrow.")
LaTroy Hawkins, Pat’s best friend and Patrick’s godfather, was in Minneapolis and rushed to a local gas station after the game. He bought a Black & Mild cigar, sat outside in the 5-degree temperatures, and took out his cell phone to videotape the occasion:
"This is for the mayor of Cincinnati, or whatever the hell his name is?"
Hawkins took a deep puff, and when the white cloud of smoke dissipated, slowly said, "Burrowhead, my ass!"
"It was nothing against Joe Burrow or Cincinnati, I did it for the mayor," Hawkins said. "It was the mayor that got overzealous. He had a chance to stay out of it, and didn’t.
"So when Pat told me he was going to light a cigar if the Chiefs won, I told him I would, too. And we all knew that Patrick wouldn’t do it. He’s as humble as they come. All he needed to do was point up at that scoreboard."
AFC championship game revenge
While Patrick Mahomes had no interest in showing disrespect by lighting up a cigar, the truth is that his greatest wish all season was playing the Bengals in the AFC championship game again, his dad says. He wanted sweet vengeance for that gut-wrenching 27-24 overtime loss in last year’s AFC title game against these same Bengals, in which he threw two interceptions. It was the second of three losses in a row for Mahomes against the Bengals.
"He really felt like he let his team down in that game," said Pat Mahomes. "He did some stuff that he never does. He did some very uncharacteristic things."
The Chiefs were leading 21-10 in the final minute before halftime with a chance to put the game away when they got down to the Bengals 1-yard line. They never even got a chance to kick a field goal. Mahomes threw an incomplete pass on first down and then a short pass to Tyreek Hill, but the receiver was tackled short of the goal line as the half ended.
"It’s like he lost his mind for a minute there, and it cost him, no doubt," Pat Mahomes said. "All he had to do was throw the ball away so they could line up for a field goal. You watch the replay of that last play, and he’s calling timeout when they had no timeouts. That’s how out of it he was. And then they all kind of fell asleep in the second half.
"That team got the better of him three times. He wanted to make sure it was the last."
The biggest question leading up to the AFC title game was whether Mahomes would even play, and if he did, how effective would he be with a high ankle sprain suffered in the Chiefs' 27-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round.
That answer became crystal clear to Mahomes when his son sent a video of him the very next day, working out with his personal trainer, showing that he had full mobility.
"When he sent that to me, I knew he wasn’t going to miss that game," Pat Mahomes said. "I wanted to tell everyone, but he told me not to show anybody. But he was moving around pretty good.
"But I knew no matter how he felt, he wasn’t going to play all year and miss that game. He really wanted to play that championship game. That game meant everything to him."
Mahomes threw for 326 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and ran for a first down to set up the game-winning field goal.
"I don’t think Patrick has lost three times to anybody in his life," Hawkins said. "His leg would have had to be twisted backwards like (Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott) for him not to play. There was no way he was missing that one, and there was no way he was going to be beaten a fourth time."
Now, here is Mahomes back in the Super Bowl once again, the third time in four years. His dad and Hawkins are scheduled to arrive in Arizona on Thursday.
'Nothing is too big for him now'
Mahomes and Hawkins laugh, finding it hard to believe that it was 27 years ago, back in March 1995, when they were with the Minnesota Twins. They were soaking in a hot tub after a spring-training workout in Orlando when Mahomes broke the news to Hawkins. His wife, Randi, was pregnant with their first child. Patrick was born in September. Hawkins – who was in Mahomes’ wedding and years later proposed to his wife, Anita, at a Mahomes New Year’s Eve party – was asked to be his godfather.
They have sat back and watched Patrick grow up to become not only a loving husband, father and a role model throughout the community, but one of the greatest football players in NFL history.
"I really thought he was going to be a basketball player," Hawkins said, "because he had so much talent when he wasn’t even playing the sport full-time. And he was just so smart, his intelligence level was crazy as hell. He has a photographic memory."
"I thought he was going to be a baseball player," said Mahomes, who pitched 11 years in the big leagues. "He was a great outfielder and he could throw 95-to-97 mph."
Well, everything changed when Mahomes went out for the high-school football team to compete for the quarterback job. He fell in love with the position, knowing it required a brilliant mind, leadership and all of the responsibilities that went along with it.
"He was going to get drafted as an outfielder, and I have no doubt he would've made it and been successful," said Mahomes, vividly remembering his son’s 16-strikeout, no-hit game his senior year. "He loved baseball. But when he went out for football, and saw all of the nuances and things you had to learn to be a quarterback, I think it really intrigued him to see what he could do.
"And being in Texas, well, they love football here. The stadiums are always packed. In high school baseball, you have maybe 100 people watching the games. Patrick has always liked performing in front of the big crowds. He was at the ballpark at such a young age, and when he got to see that 2000 World Series with me, with those 60,000 people in the stands, that excited him.
"I think that’s why nothing is too big for him now."
Patrick Mahomes, who played baseball for one year at Texas Tech before putting all of his attention on football, still has a passion for baseball. He’s a minority owner of the Kansas City Royals, and will occasionally telephone Hawkins, a Twins special assistant, seeking his opinion on players.
He attends several Royals and Texas Rangers games each year with his father. He watches baseball throughout the offseason as he lives in the Dallas area. He still plays catch, throwing a baseball in his backyard just last summer with his father.
"Baseball’s still in his blood," Mahomes says. "I still hope one day when his football career is over, he goes to baseball and sees what he can do. I’m sure he couldn’t still be an outfielder at that age, but he could still pitch."
Said Hawkins: "Well, I don’t think Patrick will have time for that. He’s going to be a quarterback in the NFL for a long, long time, at least another 12 to 14 years. But I will say that he’s a sports fanatic."
For now, Mahomes’ full attention is on the Philadelphia Eagles, the Chiefs’ opponent in Super Bowl 57 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
It will be historic, the first Super Bowl in history that will feature Black starting quarterbacks on each team, 35 years since Doug Williams became the first Black Super Bowl quarterback for Washington.
"I still remember Doug Williams winning that Super Bowl, and seeing how many Black quarterbacks in the game now is great," Mahomes said. "It’s great seeing history with Patrick and (Eagles quarterback) Jalen Hurts. I watched Hurts play in high school and college, and actually met him at an Earl Campbell awards banquet. He’s very humble and respectful. You can tell his dad was a coach and they raised him right. He seems a lot like my son, both soft-spoken, but people listen."
When Patrick Mahomes steps onto the field Sunday, he will look into the stands to find his father. Pat Mahomes sits in the same seat at Chiefs home games at Arrowhead Stadium, and Patrick will look up to exchange glances, head nods, fist pumps. This has been going on for Patrick’s entire life.
"Patrick always knows his dad is at the game," Hawkins said. "He could be playing on the moon, and his dad would be there. I remember he would drive, eight, 10, 12 hours to places like Ames, Iowa, just to see him play. He always knew his dad would be somewhere in that stadium."
Said Mahomes: "He knows I’m there for him at all times. If he looks for any advice, we’ve got hand signals, head signals, nods. We’re always communicating."
Mahomes, who is still deeply superstitious from his baseball days and must sit in the same spot and wear the same clothes for each game, says that at least he isn’t nearly as nervous as when his son first broke into the NFL.
And, of course, these days, he has a whole lot of friends, his phone blowing up with congratulatory messages, and, yes, ticket requests.
Mahomes, 52, may be plenty busy this upcoming week, but he knows he’ll still be able to sneak in a little private time with his son, and plans to bring another special gift with him to the stadium.
"I’ve got a guy who’s going to make boxes of cigars for me to bring to all of the Chiefs," Mahomes said. "So, I’ll be sure to have mine.
"Believe me, I’ll be ready to light it up."
Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Patrick Mahomes' dad on Super Bowl 2023 cigars, revenge, baseball love