Edson: Mahomes Teaches Young Athletes That Mental Toughness Matters
It would have been easy to give up.
There were under 10 minutes left in Sunday night’s Super Bowl and young Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes had just thrown his second interception of the game with his team trailing 20-10.
Well, yes. But not in the way you are thinking. Instead of sulking off to the bench, Mahomes went around to his teammates on the sidelines and assured them: “We’re not out of this yet. Keep your heads up. We can finish strong.”
True to his word, Mahomes helped the Chiefs end a 50-year Super Bowl drought with a 31-20 win.
How did they do it? In no small part, because Mahomes has what young athletes – and the rest of us – truly need: Mental toughness.
I know that mental toughness is the No. 1 lesson I learned in playing sports.
What it means for a young athlete is: Never give up, never turn on your teammates and never stop believing.
That’s what Mahomes did on Sunday night.
The Mahomes magic started on a 3rd-and-15 play. He connected with receiver Tyreek Hill for 44 yards. Four plays after that, he hit tight end Travis Kelce for a one-yard touchdown. It was now 20-17.
After San Francisco went three-and-out, a suddenly revitalized Mahomes went to work again. He needed only 2:26 to drive 65 yards and take the lead. He hit Sammy Watkins for a 38-yard pass, then found Damien Williams for a five-yard touchdown and all of a sudden the Chiefs were on top, 24-20.
A few minutes later, a rushing touchdown gave Kansas City a 31-20 lead and the victory.
The beauty of learning mental toughness is that it applies to every phase of your life.
That is, whether in the workplace, dealing with difficult people or meeting family challenges, mental toughness is a valuable asset.
It can mean the difference between giving up or finding a new way – a Plan B if you will – to finding a solution to a problem.
In my mind, life is a series of challenges and having a Plan B, plus mental toughness, can make all the difference in the world.
It can start at a young age, when young athletes are learning about challenges, that mental toughness can be learned.
It’s a lesson that never leaves you.
Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.