“Well, Bye” – A Requiem For Patrick Mahomes

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Photo via Gordon DeLoach, TexasHSFootball.com

 

Tombstone isn’t the best Western movie ever made, nor was it the first one I saw, but I still regard it as my favorite. It’s hard not to get swept up in the compelling tale, there’s the plays-by-his-own-rules Wyatt Earp, the drunk Doc Holliday, and one of the best villains on the silver screen in Curly Bill. I mean seriously, look at the talent in this movie. Val Kilmer. Kurt Russell. Sam Elliot. This movie has Charlton Heston and Billy Zane in supporting roles, roles deep down the line. Virgil Earp’s mustache looks like a dang seagull. It’s a near perfect film.

It’s not the acting that makes the movie great, it’s the dialogue, the writing, the wonderful cheesiness that comes with it that makes it memorable. Who can forget Doc Holliday saying, “I’m your huckleberry”?

There’s a scene, towards the end of the movie, where Wyatt Earp is leaving town. He’s forlorn, hatless, driving a stagecoach to the train station. He knows that he’s been defeated (he isn’t actually defeated, spoilers). He knows that in a sense, it’s all over. He tells Bill, the villain, the leader of the rough and rowdy Cowboys this. Bill responds with one of the best lines of the movie. Its simplicity, sarcasticness, sincerity, all of these things combine to make it what it is. It’s two simple words.

“Well, bye.”

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Patrick Mahomes began his reign as Texas Tech’s QB1 at a dark time. It was 2014, and Texas Tech was 4-8 on the season. It had lost embarrassingly to TCU by a score of 82-27, it had lost in heartbreaking fashion to West Virginia on a last second field goal, and despite 598 passing yards from Mahomes, the Red Raiders lost 48-46. Cries for Kliff Kingsbury’s head were abundant, and no one knew who would start in 2015, Mahomes, who had just dominated statistically but had some freshman moments, or the injured incumbent Davis Webb, who had a rocket for an arm but threw dangerous throws more often than one would like.

To make a long story short, it was Mahomes, and in 2015, he was dominant. There are tons of statistics that can be thrown at anyone to show his worth, how good he was, but ultimately what makes Patrick Mahomes special isn’t his stats, even though those are insane in their own right. It’s his ability to create, to forge something from nothing, to take the inch and turn it into ten yards that made him a star.

The stuff he did on the field quickly became legend. Beat reporters tweeted before games that he was throwing 60-yard passes from his knees. He threw no-look passes in spring practices of 2016. He played baseball in the offseason before the 2015 season and looked like a battle-hardened senior instead of the sophomore he was despite the lack of reps in the offense.

This isn’t a system QB. This is an objective talent, a talent so good that if he had played at a school that didn’t run the Air Raid and get hurt many times he might be going in the top 5 picks in this year’s NFL Draft.

It’s an absolute curse that the only thing wrong with Mahomes was the time he got to Texas Tech. 2014-2016 were arguably the worst years for a college defense of all time. With no help from a struggling defense, and often no help from a struggling offensive line, Mahomes went out and did the damn thing, every single Saturday that he was able to.

He did it in the cold, he did it in the heat. He did it healthy, and he did it injured, and boy were there a lot of injuries. Googling “Patrick Mahomes Injury” brings up so many different articles, there’s the shoulder that plagued him in 2016, the awful concussion that benched him for the rest of a game against Texas in 2014, and the leg injury sustained against TCU in 2015 clearly bothered him for the rest of the year.

When we speak of the legacy of Patrick Mahomes, it can’t just be of the stats and the crazy passes. It has to also mention the indomitable will, the refusal to let injuries derail him.

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So often, those who leave early for the NFL Draft are cast aside with a disdainful attitude by many, a “well, bye” attitude. That isn’t how Red Raider fans and alumni will view Mahomes.

Mahomes smashed records while injured and healthy. He did it in less than three seasons of starting, and he didn’t have the benefit of playing in two bowl games while he was here. Let me reiterate: while Patrick Mahomes was at Texas Tech the Red Raiders only played in one bowl game, and in order for them to be competitive, he had to do this

It’s good that Mahomes is entering the draft. It’s good that he’s going to get paid, and that he might go to a team that will definitely ask less of him than Texas Tech did. Every time that the Red Raiders were down, they were never out, and it’s partially because of him.

The next time I’m in Jones AT&T Stadium, I’ll hear the iconic Tombstone line, “YOU TELL ‘EM I’M COMIN’, AND HELL’S COMIN’ WITH ME, YOU HEAR” boom over the loudspeaker on third downs, I’ll see the image of Wyatt Earp yelling the line on the Jumbotron, but I won’t think of the defense trying to get off the field on third down. I’ll think of a dearly beloved quarterback, one that put his neck on the line for a school that he loved, one that fought back time and time again, and I’ll be appreciative of his time there.

 

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