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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Echo
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“It’s a trap!” Mahomes leads a new Empire in the NFL

I’ve got a bad feeling about this…

The running joke among NFL fans this year is that the season was “scripted,” fabricated by writers to make the games as entertaining as possible.

I’m here to tell you it was, indeed, scripted. Roger Goodell teamed up with George Lucas to provide the world with the greatest drama ever seen on national television. In short, the NFL is now just a real-life rewrite of “Star Wars.”

Many people know the story of “Star Wars.” Even those who haven’t seen the films know the names of Darth Vader, the Empire and the hero, Luke Skywalker, who saved the galaxy.

For years, the NFL had its own Empire, the New England Patriots.

Bill Belichick was Emperor Palpatine and his apprentice, Darth Tom Brady, laid waste to the league for two decades. The duo won six Super Bowls, tying the Patriots with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most by a single franchise ever. 

There were glimpses of hope from players like Eli Manning and Drew Brees, but there was no permanent solution to stop the rampage of Brady and Belichick.

No hope, but one. The Chosen One, Patrick Mahomes from Texas Tech University with his trusty Rebellion: the Kansas City Chiefs.

In 2020, Mahomes and his crew won Super Bowl LIV over the San Francisco 49ers, coming back from a 10-point deficit by scoring three touchdowns in less than six minutes. Their legendary performance was their opening act.

The next season, in Super Bowl LV, the Chiefs faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers were helmed by a face all too familiar to fans: Tom Brady. A fitting face-off between the people’s hero and the man who had won everything.

But, like Luke Skywalker facing Darth Vader in “The Empire Strikes Back,” Mahomes couldn’t stop Brady as the greatest quarterback of all time claimed his seventh ring in a rout, 31-9. Brady alone had won more Super Bowls than any single NFL franchise.

One season later, Brady announced his retirement. With his absence, the Patriots failed to rise above mediocrity. Fans were hopeful that maybe, just maybe, their favorite teams could stand a chance with the mighty Empire fallen.

But any Star Wars fan knows that the Empire would not be the last threat to the league. A new dark lord had risen. Instead, the one thought to be the hero had turned into an enemy.

The First Order was the name. Revenge was the game. Not willing to be outdone, the scrappy Chiefs and Mahomes returned to the championship two years after falling to Brady, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in Super Bowl LVII.

Fans cheered but were blind to the darkness beneath them. The league was overthrown, the coup drowned out by thunderous applause.

But this season the Chiefs barely looked like contenders. During the regular season, their receiving corp was weaker than ever, and Kansas City dropped games to the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders — rivals who didn’t even make the playoffs.

Kansas City scraped by until the bright lights of the playoffs showed their true unlimited power.

Former Chief Tyreek Hill and the Dolphins? No competition. Josh Allen and the Bills? Destroyed. MVP Lamar Jackson and his flock of Ravens? Defeated.

All that stood left, once again, were the San Francisco 49ers. A team lined with MVP candidates, multiple All-Pros, future Hall of Famers and the Offensive Player of the Year was the last hope to stop the Chiefs.

No one should be surprised how the story ended. 49ers take a 10-point lead? Check. Chiefs losing with less than two minutes to go? Double-check. Patrick Mahomes leads a game-winning drive in overtime? Check, check and check.

Chiefs: 25, 49ers: 22. Mahomes lifted the Lombardi Trophy yet again.

NFL fans had their eyes opened like the Jedi Council in “Revenge of the Sith.” In the power vacuum of Brady came a rising tide of red and gold covering the NFL like a villainous cape.

The Chiefs have been to four Super Bowls over the last five years, winning three. Patrick Mahomes is only 28 years old. The NFL is the Chiefs’ Kingdom.

Someday, there will be another. A new hope will ignore the odds, take down the Kansas City Empire and free the NFL.

But until then, the league is bathed in the light of a red lightsaber once again. Brady emerging victorious over Mahomes years ago wasn’t a final hurrah from the GOAT but was a torch passing from one Empire to the next.