Patrick Mahomes is a transcendent young superstar who will reign atop the NFL for the next decade and change, barring any severe unforeseen complications. At 25 he already has an NFL MVP and a Super Bowl championship under his belt. He does things no one else in the league can do. Every box is checked in the superstar department.
Thus, with such lofty accomplishments come lofty expectations, or so Jay Williams believes. On this morning's edition of Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin Williams said he believes Mahomes has already reached championship-or-bust expectations similar to those of LeBron James.
This was interesting because of the subtext that Mahomes would face as much scrutiny for not winning a championship every year as LeBron, who has a massive target on his back in that regard. All great players have a championship-or-bust mentality. They take it one day at a time and keep their expectations level, sure, but at in the end the point is to win a title. No players even near the level of Mahomes or LeBron got to where they are without expecting to be the best, all the time. It's championship or bust for Tom Brady, for Kevin Durant, for all the elite players who have the capability to win a championship.
But not everyone is lambasted for failing to do so. Right or wrong, the narrative around the Patriots' playoff failure last year was the team couldn't get the job done, not that Brady faltered and was the reason they got knocked out by the Titans. Alternatively, whenever LeBron falls short of a title, the discourse is all about what he could have done better to change the outcome. I believe Williams is right to say that Mahomes is entering this territory.
What separates Mahomes and LeBron from the pack is that they've proven they can do the impossible. Both have won championships carrying teams on their backs. If they were able to do it once, the expectation is that they can do it again. If there's nothing Mahomes or LeBron can do on the field or court, what's stopping them from simply winning every game? As Williams notes, that mindset isn't fair. But that's the burden of greatness.
The whole concept of championship-or-bust can be useless because there isn't a single team or player in any sport who goes into a season with anything less than dreams of a title. But when those expectations come from the outside as well as within, that's when things get harder. The scrutiny is never higher. This will be the first year Mahomes experiences it -- and if the Chiefs fall short in their pursuit of defending the title, it will only be the beginning.