KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Patrick Mahomes piled up an avalanche of accolades in the wake of his breakout MVP season, but receiving the sportsman of the year award Thursday evening from the Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation holds special meaning.
“It really is amazing, the city of Kansas City, the people,” Mahomes said before accepting the award. “Just being able to fully engulf in the culture and engulf in what it means to be a person from Kansas City has been great. Now that I accept this award on behalf of the Chiefs, it's going to be awesome.”
Mahomes has won certainly won gaudier trophies and more well known honors. The recognition from the Sports Commission, however, denotes that Mahomes has achieved one of his off-the-field goals: to become a champion in the community he now thinks of as his own.
“You imagine going out there and winning football games,” Mahomes said when asked about what he dreamed might be possible when the Chiefs selected him in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. “You imagine going out there and having success, but you don't understand I guess all that comes with it.”
On Thursday night, what came with it was mingling through a ballroom of more than 800 people, shaking hands, posing for photographs and exchanging greetings with everyone he met.
“You have that sense of passion, you have that sense of love for the community and for the fans,” Mahomes said. “They show up at Arrowhead every single week and they show that passion. And then whenever I'm in the community they treat me like a human being.”
Chiefs fans have embraced Mahomes as one of their own not merely for the accomplishments on the field, but for the way he understands his role off of it. He gets how much it means to fans to have a quarterback that lives in Kansas City, enjoys hanging out with friends, going to a game and giving back to those less fortunate.
But just as fans embrace Mahomes for who he is away from Arrowhead Stadium, that energy finds its way back onto the field.
“When you have people like that that are just genuine, good people, you want to go out there and leave everything you have on the football field,” Mahomes explained.
The Chiefs quarterback was one of five award winners recognized by the Sports Commission Thursday night. Joining Mahomes on stage were Stanford volleyball and former St. James Academy volleyball players Audriana Fitzmorris and Jenna Gray, sportswomen of the year; Northwest Missouri State men's basketball coach Ben McCollum, coach of the year; William Jewell assistant softball coach and former Oklahoma Sooners softball pitcher Paige Parker, the community champion winner; and Kansas City T-Bones general manager Chris Browne, executive of the year.
With several former Kansas City high school athletes among this year's winners, Mahomes recalled some of the first awards he won back home in Tyler, Texas – trophies from the Hollytree Country Club where his mother worked.
“I remember how special that was for me for them to see not only the things I do on the field but I did off of it,” he said. “And I still have those trophies to this day, so I know it's a big deal moment when you are a high school athlete.”
Mahomes also reflected on what he believes is one of his responsibilities, serving as a champion in the community and inspiring young people to pursue their dreams.
“Everybody didn't think I was going to be a football player, they thought I was going to play baseball or do something else,” Mahomes said. “I knew in my heart I wanted to play football, so I followed that dream and I just worked. If you work hard enough and you're following your dream, you can accomplish whatever you're doing.
“If it's football, if it's being a doctor or just going out there being the best person you can be, I believe that you can do it if you put your mind to it.”
Mahomes arrived in Kansas City less than 26 months ago, yet now he can say without a doubt he's a Kansas Citian, and that's just fine by him.
“I've got my house now, kind of set my roots down and now I'm just here to stay, and hopefully I'm here for for long, long time.”