There’s a thing in baseball circles called “prospect fatigue.” A player suffering from prospect fatigue is essentially a player who has been around long enough for the excitement surrounding that player’s name fades. Generally speaking, the best players avoid prospect fatigue, only spending a few years, if that, in the minor leagues. But it’s not uncommon to see international prospects who have been in the industry’s eye since they were 16 suffer from prospect fatigue for no other reason than we’ve heard their name for so long and there are new shiny names to think about and dream about.
To be clear: prospect fatigue is not a thing that happens to a player. It is a thing that happens to fans and talent evaluators about a player. As much as we like to consider ourselves to be objective beings, that’s not really the case. Humans are swayed by feelings, whether consciously or subconsciously, whether we want to or not. It is what it is.
With the Kansas City Royals not playing baseball in the dead of winter during a pandemic, much of the city’s eye has been trained on the Kansas City Chiefs, whose run with quarterback Patrick Mahomes is rare.
How rare? Let’s start with the basics: Mahomes is now the 20th quarterback to play in multiple Super Bowls, and the youngest to do so. With a win, he would be the 13th quarterback to win multiple Super Bowls. In his first three years as a starter, Mahomes-led teams hosted the AFC Championship game. Only one other franchise in history—the Philadelphia Eagles, head coach Andy Reid’s former team—has managed to host the conference championship three times.
But, of course, it’s not just the postseason. Mahomes is 38-8 as a starter in the regular season, good for a winning percentage of .826, which is better than Tom Brady’s .768 winning percentage during his tenure with the New England Patriots. And he is at the top of the NFL leaderboard in career passing yards per game (307.7) by a greater margin than the difference between the second place (Drew Brees, at 280) and 18th place (Dan Marino, at 253.6).
Mahomes is obviously not the only player on the Chiefs. However, the Chiefs had Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce before he arrived—along with Reid as head coach—and they hadn’t made much headway in the playoffs. Mahomes is undeniably the best quarterback in the league. He has the hardware, the wins, the stats, and the championship to prove it.
So, then, how did anyone with half a brain and a job in sports media end up with this conclusion?
Look: Josh Allen had a great season! A breakout season! And his team went 13-3! But Allen is no Mahomes. Even in this, Allen’s amazing fantastic season for the ages, he had fewer passing yards, fewer touchdowns, more interceptions, a lower QBR, a lower passer rating, and lower adjusted net yards per attempt than Mahomes. Allen is young and wildly talented, but he’s no Mahomes.
The Chiefs are in a position that very few teams are ever in: they are the undisputed best team in the league. Despite playing what is essentially an away game against the Tampa Bay Buccaniers in the Super Bowl, the Chiefs opened as 3.5 point favorites. The Chiefs have been the best team in football over the last three years, and that’s inarguable.
So, why are some people insisting that the Chiefs aren’t that good? That Josh Allen of all people is better than Mahomes? To me, it’s simple: it’s just another type of prospect fatigue. It’s a symptom of looking for the next big thing. Sometimes, there’s no undisputed next big thing yet. The Chiefs and Mahomes are the next big thing. They have done what ought to be impossible: they have made greatness boring to everyone who isn’t in Chiefs Kingdom.
And you know what? That’s fine with me. I’m perfectly happy when the team from Kansas City is making consecutive championships. It was great for the Royals six years ago, and it’s great now. I’ve seen the alternative to “boring,” and it’s losing a whole bunch of games with no-name people at quarterback or on the mound, throwing sportsballs badly. Give me championship boring any day.