Sunday, February 16, 2020

Feb. 16, 2020, column:
Christian faith just one more plus in cheering on Mahomes

By Mike Haynes
            Just before the 2020 Super Bowl, a sports fan proclaimed on Facebook that although the Kansas City Chiefs’ super-talented quarterback was from his alma mater, Texas Tech, his reason for supporting the Chiefs wasn’t because he was jumping on the Patrick Mahomes bandwagon. He loved that Mahomes is a former Red Raider, but he made it clear that he had been a KC fan since he was 10 years old in 1968.
            I have a nephew who’s rooted for the Chiefs since he was a kid, too. He, too, is a Tech graduate. He, his sister and a friend made the trip to Arrowhead Stadium for the AFC title game, but his satisfaction at the win over Tennessee wasn’t limited to liking the quarterback.
Patrick Mahomes displays the Lamar Hunt Trophy
after the AFC championship game before the 2020 Super Bowl.

I also have longtime loyalties, win or lose, because of personal connections or proximity to where I’m from. No matter how they’re faring, I yell for the Dallas Cowboys; Texas Tech, where I graduated and worked; my hometown, McLean; the Texas Rangers; West Texas A&M (I try to avoid the “A&M” part); the Amarillo pro baseball team (whose name I still don’t like); and the Oklahoma Sooners.
            But with the Chiefs, I admit that I’m a bandwagon fan because of Mahomes. The 24-year-old athletic phenomenon drew my eyes to every play of the Super Bowl for the first time since the Cowboys were in it. And I’m not the only one. The seemingly easygoing young man with the curly hair and big smile has seduced admiration from both hardcore and casual sports fans.
            And for Christians, there’s a bonus. The Chiefs’ No. 15 professes to follow Christ, and it appears that his faith is genuine.
            Yes, I know people – athletes and celebrities as well as us regular folks – can appear admirable only to stumble. I remember a boxer who won the heavyweight championship, enthusiastically gave God the glory and was arrested a few days later for drunk driving.
            But let’s not doubt anyone until there’s reason to. Mahomes, the Super Bowl MVP in only his third NFL season, was born in Tyler to Major League Baseball pitcher Pat Mahomes and his wife, Randi. His parents divorced, but he grew up with a Christian influence, according to his mother. While he played at Tech, she told IN Magazine:
            “In middle school, he got real involved with his youth group. He got saved. There was a night at church, he had his hands raised to the Lord and he was singing. I just felt overcome with this most awesome moment, more than any football game, because I knew where his heart truly is.”
            According to, Mahomes’ parents’ divorce resulted in early maturity for him. “Living with his mom, he took on more chores. Sometimes he declined friends’ invitations to hang out because he needed to watch his two younger siblings. In the seventh grade, he chose to get himself baptized; he wanted, his mom said, ‘to become a man in church.’”
            Fast-forward to a 2019 interview with the Faith + Family Sports Programming Network, when Mahomes said, “My faith has always been a big part of what I do … I’ve grown up in church, and faith really helps you know why you’re playing the game, and who you’re doing it for.”
            His tweets seem to include spiritual references in a natural, not self-serving, way. When former Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith suffered a season-ending injury, Mahomes tweeted, “Prayers for my guy man! You will bounce back!” according to After the Chiefs’ playoff win over Houston, he tweeted, “Man this is crazy! God is amazing! Thank you to everyone who has supported me and helped me get here!”
            Like many, I’m caught up in Mahomes-mania for many reasons: his freewheeling, pass-or-run, side-arm-throwing style; his positive, smiling, confident look; his results. He’s intelligent: The long pass play that started the Chiefs to their Super Bowl comeback victory over San Francisco was his suggestion. He’s loyal. He tweets encouragement to Texas Tech teams and attends Tech basketball games when he can. He still does local car dealer commercials even after signing contracts with Adidas, State Farm, Oakley and other national firms.
            And his Christian faith is another plus for me. Of course, the NFL has lots of Christians. Teams have chaplains and chapel services. Kansas City owner Clark Hunt has said, “My identity is my faith in Christ.”
But it’s pretty cool that the most popular football player, at least for now, on the planet gives credit – and glory – where credit and glory are due.