Home #Hwoodtimes Another Chiefs Super Bowl Championship sparks anew the debate over Patrich Mahomes’...

Another Chiefs Super Bowl Championship sparks anew the debate over Patrich Mahomes’ place among the NLF’s all-time “Greats”

Behind another MVP performance from QB Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs were victorious over the San Francisco 49ers, 25-22, in Super Bowl LVIII (Yahoo Sports photo)

By: Lucas Camacho

Upland, California (The Hollywood Times) 2/20/2024 – In the days immediately following Super Bowl LVIII, the debate flared up whether to consider Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes among the best. If I may step in/to this debate, the answer is quite simple: no, not yet.

If you look at the truly great players, they truly changed the game as we know it. Let’s look at some of the greatest champions from all walks of the sports world.

Football: Jim Brown
This is an undated photo of Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown. Brown was an All-America at Syracuse in 1956 and NFL Rookie of Year in 1957. He also led the NFL in rushing 8 times, 8-time All-Pro in 1957 to 1961 and 1963 to 1965, 3-time MVP in 1958,1963 and 1965 with Cleveland, ran for 12,312 yards and scored 126 touchdowns in just 9 seasons. (AP Photo)

I know some people would put either the aforementioned Mahomes or Tom Brady in this spot (and I know of some people that would rather talk about Bruno from Encanto than Tom Brady). But if you go back past the amazing feats performed by such amazing players such as Peyton Manning and Joe Green, you’ll see one man changed football forever: Jim Brown. This may be a surprise to some since Brown only won one NFL championship (it wasn’t even a Super Bowl that he won). Now I can go into a long list of how impacted the game through civil rights and social justice, but I want to focus more on his playing style. Take this as a modern example; Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill, as our example here, normally catches the ball and runs out of bounds. That is NOT how Jim Brown played. When Brown had the ball, he didn’t run out of bounds…he ran OVER people. If he was in that infamous college game where the band came on the field too early…he might have seriously hurt one of those tuba players. Another point of concern that many people might also have for putting the late great Jim Brown in this spot is his lack of championships. That’s a fair point that he doesn’t have as many rings as say Joe Montana (or Tom Brady…snuck him in, hahaha). However, his stats are what make him one of the greats. As a running back, if you have a game where you rush over a hundred yards…that’s great. Jim Brown managed to do those 39 times. He was also a three-time MVP, nine-time Pro Bowler, and in TWO college football hall of fames. The most eye-popping stat of his is one that didn’t get recorded: Jim Brown was NEVER tackled for a loss. If these stats don’t convince you that Jim Brown changed football as people knew it at the time, please reread this section as many times as it takes. Oh, by the way, the other hall of fame that he’s in is for Lacrosse, where he is considered the greatest Lacrosse player of all time.

Baseball: Babe Ruth abd Jacki Robinson

You can’t have a conversation about the history of baseball without mentioning two of its greatest players: Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson (it’s like trying to have a conversation with a Dodgers fan about the team without mentioning Vin Scully).

Starting with the Babe you know: The Sultan of Swat, the King of Swing, the Great Bambino, etc. Before the Babe, there weren’t many actual home runs hit in baseball. At the time, if you hit around 20 home runs in a season then you had a career year. That all changed when Babe Ruth started hitting home runs like no one’s business and while hopped up on hot dogs and beer. For the Babe, hitting 20 home runs was a good MONTH. The Babe hit 54 home runs in his first year with the Yankees alone. A lot of the swing kings we know in the modern era are standing on the shoulders of the Babe. It takes another Yankee, Roger Maris, to bring down the Babe’s home run record in a season (and then that record was taken down by steroids…but I digress…).

Jackie Robinson (Photo: AP)

Now let’s talk Jackie Robinson: four sport college athletes from UCLA. Again, like Jim Brown, there are a lot of things Jackie did off the field to change baseball and the country. However, let’s take a look at Jackie’s stats. Any good historian of the game can tell you that Jackie was a special player.

He could hit home runs, he could make great fielding plays, and he could run. We know the legendary Ty Cobb was caught stealing bases plenty of times. Jackie, on the other hand, wasn’t caught nearly as many times. Robinson was only caught 16 times…but stole 200 bases in his career, including stealing home 19 times. Pause and reflect on that and think to yourself: when was the last time you saw someone steal home?

Personally, the last time I saw anyone ATTEMPT to do so was when Clayton Kershaw was on the mound (it did not end well for that runner…). On April 15, 1947 (ironically Tax Day), the game of baseball was changed forever. And for all you Yankees loving historians out there…Jackie was safe in the 1955 World Series (it’s over, sorry.)

Basketball: George Mikan, and Kobe Bryant
George Mikan, former DePaul University basketball star now with the Minneapolis Lakers of the National Basketball Association in an undated photo.

I am not just writing this because it’s for The Hollywood Times, but one of the most storied franchises in all of basketball is the Los Angeles Lakers. The long list of amazing stars to put on a Lakers uniform includes Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, etc. But there are two notable Lakers alumni that changed the game forever. Let’s start with George Mikan; widely considered basketball’s first ever “big man” standing at 6 foot 10 inches. It seems to be a common theme for the Lakers: many of their best teams centered on a dominant big player like Chamberlain, Kareem, and O’Neal (and it’s a role filled today by Anthony Davis).

It all started with Mikan, nicknamed “Mr. Basketball” and “Mikan the Magnificent”, all the way back to the dawn of the NBA. Basketball hadn’t evolved much from the time it was invented by Dr. Naismith in 1891. It was Mikan who made the game to what it is today. For starters, he was the first to DUNK a ball in a professional game. The rules had to be changed quite literally because of Mikan. NBA developed the shot clock, defensive goaltending rules, and the widening of the Free Throw Lane from 6 to 12 feet (it is literally called “The Mikan Rule”).

George Mikan led his teams to one college championship and five NBA championships. We went from a game filled with assists and set shots to the game it is now, and it’s all thanks to “Big Mike” (that’s right, there was a “Big Mike” well before Michael Oher).

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers during a game against the Portland Trailblazers at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif.
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

And that transitions perfectly to a man who famously kept the ball for himself but built a legacy that will endure for years: the late great Kobe Bryant. There’s no denying that Kobe is a massive part of Hollywood and Los Angeles as a whole. And even still harder to imagine, it’s only been four years since Kobe and his daughter Gigi were suddenly taken from us (a loss that brought as much, if not more, grief to the city as the deaths of Tommy Lasorda and Vin Scully).

On the court, Kobe’s hard work ethic translated into leading the Lakers to five NBA championships, including one over the franchise’s sworn enemy: the Boston Celtics. That grit and determination that Kobe had is why people in sports refer to having a championship mindset as “the Mamba Mentality”. Yes, he drove his coaches crazy, and yes that goes for some of his teammates, too. But his impact on the game is not up for debate. Jalen Williams, the 22-year-old Forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder, said the first tattoo he ever got was a portrait of Kobe’s face with a steely-eye expression.

Williams is among the 39 players this season that have worn either Kobe’s number 8 or 24. And it seeps into the WNBA as well. Kobe was a champion of women’s basketball as well. The WNBA’s Advocacy Award is named in his and Gigi’s honor. And let’s not forget his mind-blowing stats. Kobe scored 50 points or more in a game 25 times…and scored a total of 60 points or more in a game 6 times. And of course, who can forget Kobe’s high scoring game where he dropped 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. With stats like these, it’s no wonder that Kobe is getting THREE statues at Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center): the place considered “the House that Kobe Built”.

Hockey: Wayne Gretzky

In the world of hockey, there is one man that stands on top of the mountain alone unchallenged: yes, “The Great One” himself…Wayne Gretzky. It was said at one point that Gretzky had more assists than any other player had points (the combination of goals AND assists). At the time of his retirement, Gretzky owned a whopping 60 records in the NHL history books. And of course, his number is retired throughout ALL of hockey (a feat matched only by another athlete previously mentioned in this article, Jackie Robinson). If you took away his goals, he would still have the most points thanks to his outrageous 1,963 assists (and no that is not a typo). The stats of this man is enough to make anyone’s face melt off (like the Nazis in the original Indiana Jones). The other thing to consider, besides his five Stanley Cup championships in Edmonton, is how he transformed the expansion of hockey. When Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, overnight…hockey became a must-see event in a place that still had the Lakers and the Dodgers. You saw celebrities from Hollywood at hockey games. Next thing you know, there are teams in Anaheim and San Jose, and it’s all because of Gretzky. He couldn’t give the Kings a Cup, but that didn’t matter: the Kings were now on the map. And it’s all thanks to the mere presence of “The Great One”.

And there you have them, six amazing athletes from football, baseball, basketball, and hockey who changed their respective games forever. However, my list actually has a seventh champion. This tremendous champion had the fire of Jim Brown and Jackie Robinson, the “Mamba Mentality” of Kobe Bryant, the heart of a champion like Babe Ruth, the blueprint for all future champions to follow like George Mikan and stands alone atop the mountain like Wayne Gretzky. I’m talking about …

Secretatiat following his victory in the 1973 Kentucky Derby (Getty Images photo)

Horse Racing: Secretariat

You may be thinking “…but this is a horse…”, and you would be right. However, there is no horse that did what Secretariat did, and there is likely to never be a horse like that ever again. Sired by the great Bold Ruler and his dam was Somethingroyal, a daughter of Princequillo, Secretariat began his legendary racing career by finishing…fourth. Things only turned around after a change at jockey to Ronnie Turcotte (who was unable to ride at first due to recovering from a fall). After winning Horse of the Year after his 2-Year-Old campaign, the spotlight was on Secretariat going into the Triple Crown. The thing to remember about the Triple Crown is that it is far different than the World Series, the Super Bowl, or the Stanley Cup: there isn’t a guarantee that a horse will win the Triple Crown.

In fact, before Secretariat, it had been 25 years since a horse successfully won all three races of the Triple Crown: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont. What made Secretariat’s run during the Triple Crown campaign so memorable is that he set the record time for ALL three races. His winning time in the Belmont Stakes, the supposed graveyard of speed horses, was a jaw dropping 2:24 flat. But what was more amazing was his margin of victory: 31 lengths. The measurement of a length is around 8 to 9 feet. Assuming it’s the bare minimum of 8 feet, the margin of victory for Secretariat in the Belmont is 248 feet. That’s almost the length of regulation football field. This is why I rank Secretariat among the greats such as Kobe and Gretzky. To win a competition that doesn’t always have a winner every year in such a dominant fashion, you can’t help but put Secretariat with the likes of George Mikan and Babe Ruth.