Drafting Patrick Mahomes was the best thing to happen to the Chiefs in their history. Mahomes is breaking long-standing team curses one by one.
Sports fans can be quite superstitious. For example, do you believe a team can be “cursed”?
When it comes to the Kansas City Chiefs, you might think they’re such a franchise. Their team history since 1972 makes it easy to feel that way, since only a handful of teams in the NFL have experienced a longer streak of postseason ineptitude and weird, “bad luck” happenstances.
But hope is in the air!
In the last few years, we have seen several famous sports “curses” get “broken,” like the Chicago Cubs finally winning a World Series for the first time in 108 years. We saw the Philadelphia Eagles win their first Super Bowl in team history several months ago.
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Another recent example happened right across the parking lot from Arrowhead, where Kansas City Royals fans enjoyed two glorious seasons (2014-2015) that broke a 29-year postseason slump and ended a 30-year championship drought.
Whatever team you root for, a long stretch between championships sure can feel like a curse sometimes. Which is why some Chiefs fans are convinced the team is cursed.
At least that’s what they thought a few weeks ago.
Then on April 27th, 2017, something miraculous happened. Patrick Mahomes became a Chief, and now, three games into the 2018 season, fans are calling him “Saint Patrick” as they watch him drive some big curses out of Chiefs Kingdom.
Okay, so maybe I’m the only one calling him “Saint Patrick”. He prefers to be called Showtime, and boy, what a show it has been so far. St. Patrick, I mean, Showtime, is not only setting NFL passing records, he has also single-handedly lifted three huge curses off of the Chiefs organization in the process.
Mahomes is changing the Chiefs in dramatic ways. Can you feel it?
To get a big picture perspective on the good fortune Mahomes has brought to the Chiefs already, let’s go back in history to the 1980s (possibly the ugliest decade in team history). While we’re at it, let’s go all the way back to 1960, when the Chiefs were called the Dallas Texans. Because when I dove into this history, I was amazed at what I found.
Here are the three curses broken by Mahomes in just the past three weeks…
Broken Curse #1: The Chiefs Never Draft a Good Quarterback
Hard to believe but true: in their 56-year history before Mahomes, the Chiefs had NEVER drafted a quarterback that became a good, solid starter.
During the early years of the organization (1960 through 1983), the Chiefs only drafted 3 first round quarterbacks. The first was Pete Beathard in 1964, who never could beat out Len Dawson as the starter.
The second time they took a QB in the first round was 1979 with the selection of Steve Fuller. Aside from a little quarterback controversy between Fuller and Bill Kenney early on, there’s not much to remember here. Fuller did not live up to his first-round status. He is best remembered as the backup to Jim McMahon on the Chicago Bears 1985 Super Bowl team.
And then there’s the Chiefs third attempt to strike QB gold in 1983. This is the most infamous draft failure of all (we’ll come back to this shortly.)
Then after 1983, the Chiefs stopped picking quarterbacks in the first round. From 1984 to 2016 they never drafted a quarterback higher than the second round.
It’s not easy to build a championship team when you don’t ever draft a quarterback in the first round. That’s where teams usually find a superstar quarterback.
Nobody knows for sure why this took place for so long. Three different Chiefs General Managers kept this streak going: Jim Schaaf, Carl Peterson, and Scott Pioli mysteriously chose to only draft quarterbacks in the later rounds of the draft during those 34 years, and they were all mediocre at best.
There are too many late round QBs to remember: Mike Elkins, Ricki Stanzi, Brodie Croyle (more on him in a moment), Aaron Murray. None of them ever surprised us to become a superstar like 6th round pick Tom Brady or 3rd rounder Russell Wilson did for their respective teams.
The curse of the QB went on for a long time. Over the years, something always seemed to keep the Chiefs from getting a quality quarterback. Some years, the team didn’t have a first-round pick due to a trade. Other years, they felt like they were set at QB and spent the first pick on other positions.
At times their strategy did make sense or worked out for the best, like in 2013 when the Chiefs had the number one overall pick in the draft and chose offensive tackle Eric Fisher. You might disagree with the decision to use that pick on an offensive lineman, but if they had picked a quarterback that year, hindsight indicates it would not have worked out well. That draft class was particularly weak at the QB position. (In 2013, the Bills were the only team to draft a first round quarterback: EJ Manuel. I also recall many Chiefs fans wanted to draft Geno Smith, which would have been a disaster.)
For one reason or other, the Chiefs could never seem to draft their own franchise quarterback. They did have the chance to drafted Dan Marino in 1983. Or Jim Kelley that year. I’m sorry guys for having to bring this bad memory up, but that decision in ‘83 to draft Todd Blackledge was the biggest QB curse of them all.
If you are old enough to remember, or you saw the 30 for 30 “Elway to Marino” episode, you know what happened. Chiefs GM Jim Schaaf selected Todd Blackledge ahead of both Dan Marino and Jim Kelly. This is now a legendary blunder in the history of the NFL draft.
Marino turned the Dolphins into perennial contenders, reaching one Super Bowl and shattering all the passing records at that time. Kelly transformed the Bills into a dominant AFC team and reached 4 consecutive Super Bowls.
Meanwhile, Todd Blackledge started 24 games in five seasons for the Chiefs. He completed 49% of his passes for 4510 yards. He threw 26 TDs and 32 INTs. He did have the honor of starting the one and only Chiefs playoff game of the 1980s, completing 12 of 21 passes for 80 yards, 2 INTs, and no touchdowns. Maybe that’s why the Chiefs stayed away from a first-round quarterback pick for the next 33 years?
But hey, that’s all in the past. Mahomes has destroyed this curse once and for all! In just four starts, he is the talk of the NFL and an MVP candidate. This kid is going to be great for a long time. He already has two AFC Offensive Player of the Week awards sitting on his mantle.
Thank you, Andy Reid and Brett Veach for doing your part to break this curse.
Broken Curse #2: No QB Drafted by the Chiefs Won a Game for 33 Years
We know the Chiefs have not had much luck at drafting and developing quarterbacks. But when you look at it more closely, the facts are mind-blowing.
How many other teams have gone 33 years without one of their drafted quarterbacks winning a game? Ryan Leaf won a few games for the Chargers. Geno Smith won some games. Even Paxton Lynch won several games as a starter.
How crazy is it to consider that Patrick Mahomes is the first drafted quarterback to win a game for the Chiefs since Todd Blackledge? Brodie Croyle tried. A third-round pick in the 2006 draft, Croyle started 10 games during his five seasons with the Chiefs and lost them all.
Researching this history opened my eyes to how bad this curse has truly been. Finding a Chiefs quarterback draft pick that simply started a regular season game is hard enough, forget about wins and losses. It didn’t happen for over three decades, according to my memory and research. (If you find an example I’m missing, please share it in the comments.)
Mahomes has broken this curse into a thousand pieces. His first four starts are all wins. He’s already won about a third as many games as Blackledge did in five seasons. Mahomes could have more wins than Blackledge by the end of this season.
Bye-bye ugly curse.
Broken Curse #3: Chiefs Can’t Win in Pittsburgh for 32 years
At one minute before kickoff on September 16th, most Chiefs fans, if they were honest, did not expect to beat the Steelers at Heinz Field. That was understandable—the last time the Chiefs won in Pittsburgh, Ronald Reagan was President.
And the last time the Chiefs played in Pittsburgh, they were clobbered 43-14.
Mahomes apparently didn’t get the memo. He went toe to toe with Ben Roethlisberger and broke the curse. It was a performance I’m still in awe over. He was almost perfect. Breaking this curse was huge for the Chiefs organization since the Steelers have been like kryptonite to them for years.
By the way, check out this video if you are not familiar with the history of that Chiefs win over Pittsburgh back in 1986. KC had the best special teams unit in NFL history that season and the special teams scored 3 touchdowns in that game to break a 14-year playoff drought.
What Curses Will Mahomes Break Next?
“Saint Patrick” Mahomes has already blown away three of the darkest clouds that have been lingering around the Chiefs organization for decades. The curse of the quarterback draft pick is over. The curse of the drafted quarterback never winning a game has been broken. And the Heinz Field losing streak curse is no more.
A new era is dawning. Mahomes is transforming not only the team culture. His presence is also changing the national perception of the Chiefs and taking the entire K.C. community to a whole new level of excitement.
Mahomes gives us hope. And hope feels good. Hope is exciting. The hope Mahomes brings is systematically breaking off decades of depressing, gloomy pessimism that has cursed Chiefs fans for way too long.
Of course, the biggest curse of all is yet to be broken: No Super Bowl Appearance in 48 years.
Please break the Super Bowl curse, Patrick. We have faith in you.