During the Great Home Run Chase of 1998, batting practice for Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa was appointment viewing. Fans watched in awe as the sluggers launched baseball after baseball into the outfield stands.
Before that, Charles Davis remembers, Hank Aaron’s pregame slugging sessions were must-see, too. And for people of a certain vintage, Davis guessed Wednesday, the same could be said for Babe Ruth.
When Patrick Mahomes takes the field for pregame warmups before Sunday’s clash of unbeatens at Ford Field, Davis — who will broadcast the Detroit Lions-Kansas City Chiefs game for Fox — said fans will want to be in their seats to watch the reigning NFL MVP put on a show.
“That’s who this kid is now,” Davis said. “You want to get out there early and kind of drink it all in.”
Mahomes goes through an elaborate pregame throwing routine similar to long toss in baseball. As described by The Ringer, he starts with 12 to 15 short throws to work on his footwork and progressively builds up to chucking the football 90 yards in the air.
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His prodigious throwing displays are just one reason why fans have flocked to see him on Sundays since he became Kansas City’s full-time starter in September 2018.
At 23, he became the youngest MVP in NFL history when he threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns. Just five quarterbacks have had more passing yards in a single season and just one — Peyton Manning — has had more touchdowns.
“The kid’s a rock star,” Davis said.
More than that, Mahomes is the face of the NFL, a young, charismatic quarterback who’s the best at his position at a time when the league has become more pass-happy than ever.
“He does everything,” Lions safety Quandre Diggs said. “The way he can throw the ball, the way he can just make the no-look passes, the sidearm throws. The contested throws into tight windows. The arm strength that he has to throw the ball down the field. That’s why he’s the MVP. That’s just what he is and that’s what he plays like each and every week.”
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Diggs predicted that “the way Pat’s (going), he’s going to break every record in NFL history,” and three games into this season, it’s not crazy to think he’s playing at an even higher level now than he was a year ago when he led the Chiefs to within a whisker of the Super Bowl.
Kansas City is 3-0 with two road wins and the fifth-best point differential in the NFL (plus-37). Mahomes has 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. And if he keeps up his 134.9 passer rating, he’ll shatter the record for the highest mark in NFL history.
“Seeing him for a while, since he came in to the league, I would say just his calmness and his presence in the pocket, it just seems like he is just getting … calmer in the pocket when things around him are changing,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “And that’s really, I think, where he’s made great strides.
“A lot of times early on his career he’d rely on his athleticism, which we all know how athletic he is. He’s got great arm strength, but really what’s different now is his eyes. They just stay downfield … he doesn’t take his eyes off of the receivers and the skill players running through the coverage and he just finds those one-on-ones.”
Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni stopped short of calling Mahomes a once-in-a-generation talent.
“We all know that longevity in this league, you earn what you get in this league every day, regardless of who you are,” he said.
But he praised the quarterback as being “an excellent playmaker” who has “a unique ability” to change games.
“He has a very strong arm,” Pasqualoni said. “He can get the ball anywhere. He can make all the throws. He can get the ball anywhere he needs to on the field. He is a young player who is really, really having an excellent career and having an excellent season so far this year.”
Davis relayed a story about being at Zero Gravity, his gym in Ocoee, Florida, Wednesday morning when a fellow gym-goer asked where he was headed this weekend.
Davis replied Detroit, and when he said the Lions were hosting the Chiefs, the immediate response was: “Mahomes!”
“You almost feel like a circus barker, don’t you? ‘Hurry, hurry, hurry, Patrick Mahomes,’ ” Davis said. “Back in the old days when leagues weren’t sold on the league itself, I remember I grew up in New York and they used to put the marquee up in Madison Square Garden — now this is before me but I read about it — and it would sell the star coming in. Not the team. ‘The Knicks are hosting George Mikan here tonight,’ that sort of a deal.
“This game, the NFL doesn’t have to do that because the NFL sells itself, but it almost feels like Patrick Mahomes is coming to town and people flip out.”
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Read more on the Detroit Lions and sign up for our Lions newsletter.
Published at Thu, 26 Sep 2019 10:00:08 +0000