Feb. 11, 2020
Super Bowl LIV: Sterling Silver Salvation
When the last pass fell, the world changed.
As the Kansas City Chiefs were running out the clock on Super Bowl LIV, holding a 31-20 lead over the San Francisco 49ers, quarterback and the game's Most Valuable Player Patrick Mahomes launched a ball sky high in the Miami air. When that football left Mahomes' hand, the Chiefs were always the team that others beat to fulfill their championship dreams. They were the players left what happened, the coaches left explaining the outcome, and the fans enduring the heartbreak. The Chiefs would endure five decades of dreadful seasons, campaigns of deliverance to the promised land, and everything in between. Kansas City would see their division rivals collectively win six Super Bowl titles and 13 AFC Championships before the Chiefs would play on the sport's biggest stage once again.
But when that ball struck the natural turf in Hard Rock Stadium, all of that pain, all of the near misses, all of the franchise greats who came before and were unable to reach the summit all washed away in a downpour of red and yellow confetti as the 2019 Chiefs stormed the field, exuberant as the newly crowned Super Bowl champions. This victory have touched all in the Chiefs Kingdom. For the players on this day, it was redemption, payback for their agonizing loss to the New England Patriots of one year ago. For Mahomes, this is a crowning achievement, a coronation of sorts. While largely recognized as one of the NFL's brightest young stars, winning a Super Bowl ring makes him more than a sideshow. This makes him the main event. What's scary is he could get better. Can you imagine? For head coach Andy Reid, it is an overdue payoff for one of the greatest teachers of the sport in the 21st century. In his 21 years as a head coach (14 in Philadelphia, 7 in KC), he has endured only three losing seasons, while leading his teams to seven conference championship games and 2 Super Bowl trips. A potential Hall of Famer has become a virtual shoo-in with a Lombardi Trophy to his credit. And to the loyal and rabid Chiefs fan base, it is the sweetest win to experience. To the younger fans who were growing frustrated with how close other Chiefs teams would get to older ones who may have believed they would never see this day, this was a vision, their heroes holding that gleaming seven pounds of sterling silver, that will leave an indelible memory in all's minds. Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs organization, its players, its coaches, and the Chiefs Kingdom. One of the league's longest championship droughts has been eradicated.
But as one team exalts in triumph, another must bear the burden of defeat. And that weight now rests on the shoulders of the San Francisco 49ers. This one could sting a little more, as the Niners carried a 10 point lead into the fourth quarter and saw it disappear in relatively short order. Despite the loss, the 49ers are in very good shape, possibly even return to as NFC champions when the Super Bowl is in Tampa, Florida. The emergence of players like RB Raheem Mostert, WR Deebo Samuel, DE Nick Bosa, and LB Dre Greenlaw ensure that San Francisco will contend in 2020 and beyond. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is gaining a reputation of coming up small in big spots. Youth is on his side, and be put in these high profile positions, eventually something should click. This loss must be painful for the 49ers organization and Niner Faithful alike. But there is too much talent and too much cohesion to believe that this was a one & done. Expect the Scarlet and Gold to remain in the senior conference title picture for the foreseeable future, even amidst an improving division in the NFC West and a fluid power structure in the NFC as a whole.