Tipsheet has avoided the NFL for the entire season. The league is gone and it’s not coming back, so there’s no point dwelling on it any more.
But we’re ending the boycott to salute the Kansas City Chiefs.
That franchise has a massive regional fan base. Folks on Missouri’s Left Coast live and breathe Chiefs football. They’ve had lots of good teams over the years but it’s been 50 years between Super Bowls.
Blues fans can relate to that. Chiefs fans have filled up their stadium year after year after year. They faithfully tailgate week after week after week like few fan bases can.
They have waited and waited and waited for something special to happen for their game.
And now it has. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has made all things possible for the Chiefs, who are headed to Miami to face the San Francisco 49ers after dispatching the Tennessee Titans 35-24 in the AFC Championship Game.
Here is what folks are writing about that:
Rodger Sherman, The Ringer: “There are no bad times when your quarterback is Patrick Mahomes. You can be buried under a pile of rubble created when a 240-pound running back busted through all the walls of your house like the Kool-Aid Man with abs, and it doesn’t matter. He shines in any weather. Last week, Mahomes’ Chiefs fell into a 24-0 deficit against the Texans. It was weird—his receivers dropped passes; Kansas City’s kick returners muffed kicks; a punt got blocked. Mahomes saw the high bar and treated it as an opportunity to set a new high-jump record, leading the Chiefs on seven straight touchdown drives while throwing five TD passes. In Sunday’s AFC championship game, Mahomes’s Chiefs dug themselves into another double-digit first-half deficit against the Titans, as Derrick Henry trucked through any and all attempted tackles. For the second straight week, Mahomes erased the deficit by halftime. After punting on their first drive, the Chiefs scored touchdowns on five of their next six drives to turn a 10-0 deficit into a 35-17 lead. Mahomes had 294 passing yards and three touchdowns.”
Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com: “The new face of the NFL took the podium Sunday night wearing a Versace jacket and leopard-print sneakers. His shaggy-do hairstyle had long since inspired wigs that sprung up around town mimicking that new look. Twenty-four year old Patrick Mahomes stared down at an audience during his postgame presser that included not only the media but fawning septuagenarians -- 70 year olds – Kansas City Chiefs fans, staff -- who had waited half a century to see something like this. In his second season as a starter, the Chiefs quarterback had accomplished what scores of coaches, general managers and players couldn't since the franchise's last Super Bowl exactly 50 years and eight days ago. The Chiefs won that one over the Vikings in Super Bowl III. It took a kid who wouldn't even be born for another 26 years for the Chiefs to get back to the championship promised land.”
Albert Breer, SI.com: “It was true to who the Chiefs have been for most of this year: less aesthetically spectacular, but tougher, more complete and more resourceful. That was illustrated by the defining moment of Sunday’s game. With 23 seconds left in the first half and the Chiefs facing second-and-10 at the Tennessee 27, Mahomes took a shotgun snap and stepped up to avoid Titans DE Harold Landry, then ran sideways toward the boundary, slipping past a diving Derick Roberson, then beating Rashaan Evans around the corner. From there, he tightroped up the left sideline past DaQuan Jones, cut back, put his shoulder into Tremaine Brock's chest, spun off him and dove over the goal line. That gave the Chiefs their first lead, 21–17, and changed the complexion of the game. Those inside the organization know that for most of the year, with ankle and knee injuries, that part of Mahomes’s game hasn’t been there as much. But he’s gotten healthier, and it’s the playoffs, so the reigning MVP gritted his teeth and made something out of not a whole lot. Brock’s chest, spun off him and dove over the goal line. That gave the Chiefs their first lead, 21–17, and changed the complexion of the game. Those inside the organization know that for most of the year, with ankle and knee injuries, that part of Mahomes’s game hasn’t been there as much. But he’s gotten healthier, and it’s the playoffs, so the reigning MVP gritted his teeth and made something out of not a whole lot.”
Terez Paylor, Yahoo! Sports: “Nevermind the fact the score gave the Chiefs only a four-point lead, and that there were still two quarters left to go in Kansas City’s historic 35-24 victory, or even that the run was arguably the greatest play of Patrick Mahomes’ career (which is saying something). To Chiefs fans, after years of postseason heartbreak — more than those outside the state of Missouri understand — it just meant more. That fan base included actors Paul Rudd and Eric Stonestreet, who each whooped it up during the game. The two were spotted postgame offering congratulations and hugs to Chiefs players and front-office executives. For one of Chiefs fans’ own to make a play like that — an “I’m the best guy on the field, dammit, and we’re not going to lose this playoff game” play — on the stage he did, against a team that plays a smash-mouth style that has give. In K.C. fits in the recent past, it represented a physical manifestation for why things are different now.. They also posed for photos with the Lamar Hunt Trophy, reveling in the moment.”
Ian O’Connor, ESPN.com: “Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan can share a few cross-generational notes before they take their talents -- and their talented rosters -- to South Beach. Neither the 61-year-old Reid nor the 40-year-old Shanahan has won a Super Bowl ring, but both are living, breathing advertisements for how to lose one, and for how to handle the fallout with dignity and grace. That fallout is considerable, of course, as the coaches of the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers will be constantly reminded between now and Feb. 2, in Miami Gardens, Florida -- site of Super Bowl LIV. Back in the big game for the second time in his head-coaching career, and for the first time in 15 years, Reid did not have his Philadelphia Eagles ready to play four quarters in his one-and-done Super Bowl appearance against the New England Patriots. Philly's bizarre bleed-the-clock strategy in the final minutes -- while trailing by two scores -- bewildered Bill Belichick, his players and the Fox broadcast team. Shanahan? He was Atlanta's offensive coordinator and the primary culprit during the mother of all Super Bowl meltdowns three years ago, gifting Belichick another ring in ways even Reid couldn't fathom. His playcalling in the fourth quarter even angered his loyal quarterback, Matt Ryan, as the remains of a 28-3 lead were squandered in what would be a devastating overtime defeat.”
“We all believe in him. It’s not just me, it’s everybody. We’re lucky to have some guys that build a lot of confidence within you and from a coaching standpoint, on both sides of the ball. Pat’s a leader of the team and everybody knows that. They all respect him for it. He knows how to handle it and that’s why we’re here.”
• Chiefs coach Andy Reid, on quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Quick Hits: Gordo grades the Cards-Rays trade, taps the brakes on Arenado-to-STL, expects Ozuna return
GRADING THE TAMPA BAY TRADE
COMMENT: Looks like the Cardinals did well in the trade from a value standpoint, but didn’t the offense just get worse for next year? Considering the offense was already bad I don’t understand the trade from that standpoint.
GORDO: Another shoe could drop. Moving two outfielders made a Marcell Ozuna signing more logical, On the other hand, adding an elite pitching prospect made creating a trade package for Nolan Arenado easier -- if the Cardinals opt for such a bold move. I still like Texas over the Cardinals for Arenado for all the reasons we've hashed out over and over in these chats.
Follow-up: Why is everyone so sure the Rays trade was a setup for something larger. They just got a player, Matthew Liberatore, who instantly becomes our third-highest-ranked prospect and top pitching prospect. That's amazing value for two players who didn't have a clear role.
GORDO: That is a great trade on its face. But, again, it could set up Ozuna's return or give Mozeliak a great chip to play for a trade. The Cardinals expect to contend for the division title again next season. So when they trade two guys capable of playing now for future assets, that suggests that other developments are to come.
Follow-up: Please give your grade on the Rays trade.
GORDO: As noted above, the two players exiting the Cardinals had no defined role for next season. Both can play at this level, but they were part of a surplus. For them, the Cardinals got a pitching prospect that gets very high marks from independent analysts.
So you have to give the trade an "A" grade. Liberatore is a guy other clubs had targeted. But again, pitchers have to stay healthy to make trades pay off.
ARENADO TO ST. LOUIS?
COMMENT: Hey, Mo and DeWitt: This is one of those Scherzer moments. Don’t whiff on Arenado. Show us you really want to win.
GORDO: I see Texas as the more likely landing spot for Arenado. If he doesn't come here, it wouldn't be a whiff. That trade has never been a natural fit for the franchise. As for wanting to win, the Cardinals have proven that with division titles, postseason victories, pennants and World Series championships on DeWitt's watch.
Follow-up: What percentage chance do you give the Cardinals on landing Nolan Arenado?
GORDO: I will up my dour assessment to 20 percent chance based on the national writers saying Colorado likes what the Cardinals could offer. Ah, but would the Rockies like that enough to take back Matt Carpenter? That would be stupid, but teams sometimes do stupid things.
Follow-up: Some of the reports suggest that the Rockies might take Fowler as part of a larger trade for Arenado. Is that possible? That would help offset the cost of the Arenado contract.
GORDO: Yes it would. That would also be stupid on Colorado's part, but that franchise keeps doing dumb stuff -- like shopping a generational talent who loves playing in Denver.
... If the Rockies trade away one of top few players in the sport for financial reasons AND take on bad money in the process, why should anybody ever buy another ticket to their games again? Sure, Arenado will collect big coin if he doesn't opt out, BUT HE IS A RARE TALENT. In most worlds having rare talent locked for a long time in seems like a good thing.
ODDS THAT OZUNA WILL RETURN?
QUESTION: What are the odds that Marcell Ozuna will be coming back?
GORDO: Ozuna wants to come back and the Cardinals just offloaded a couple of outfielders. To me it's just money and contract structure now. This team knows how Marcell fits within the group and this team knows he will provide a presence in the middle of the order.
WAIT TO PAY FLAHERTY?
QUESTION: Why should Jack Flaherty have any beef about getting paid more? He was only 8-9 in 2018, and he is only 19-19 for his career. We really don’t know yet what we have in Jack Flaherty, do we? Wouldn’t the Cardinals be wise to wait to throw money at him?
GORDO: What are you watching? Flaherty is one of the most talented pitchers in the game. ESPN recently had him as the No. 6 starter in the entire industry. At that level he is worth $30 million a year on the open market, which he does not have access to. THAT is his beef about salary.
BOTTOM LINE ON 'PETRO'
COMMENT: You and Jim Thomas are overly optimistic on Pietrangelo’s contract turmoil. Of course he’s leaving! He’ ll get over 20 million more on the open market. Fans can take the truth: He would have been signed already if he wanted to stay. So please stop saying you "can’t see him leaving."
GORDO: If he leaves, he leaves. The Blues are prepared for that. Many of the better franchises in the league manage to keep elite players for less-than-market-value money because players want to win. I don't see Pietrangelo as one of those guys, but if he is, so be it. Some other team will pay him a LOT of money in his mid-30s for winning that Cup in St. Louis.
Follow-up: I could see Petro getting $77 million for 7 years on the open market or 8 years for $70 million here. People have got to look at the Kings and Sharks with their $11M d-men and think twice.
GORDO: I agree with you there. Alex is having a monstrous year, but again, how many teams want to really, really overpay him in his mid-30s for what he achieved here?
DO BLUES NEED AN ENFORCER?
QUESTION: The incident with Petro and Reaves makes me wonder about the role of fighting in the NHL? Do we need an enforcer? Does Brouwer keep his roster spot and dress more often because he can fill the modern enforcer role, and we need him on the bench if something like this happens again?
GORDO: There is no place for an enforcer in the NHL today. If a guy like Reaves steps over the line, then you target his more skilled teammates for heavy hits. You make a player who steps over the line a liability to his own team.
Having a lesser player in the lineup just to chase around after another fourth-liner doesn't win you games.
WHY AROZARENA (AND NOT BADER OR O'NEILL)?
QUESTION: Why do you think Arozorena became the trade piece over Bader or O'Neill? Was he ever going to leap frog the other two for playing time in the outfield?
GORDO: Tampa Bay had a say on which player it took back. So that's a factor, too.
Randy could have earned a regular role here had he stayed and had he hit well consistently. Management liked his speed.
Follow-up: Fowler is still here (because they can’t move his contract) and an Ozuna signing is still a possibility. That said, Cards FO has jettisoned Pham, Mercado, Garcia, JMart & Arozarena while keeping ONeill, Lane Thomas, Bader & Carlson. There is an interesting ‘demographic’ pattern here, no?
GORDO: Reports say they have offered O'Neill and Bader in various trade packages. Also, they have kept Justin Williams on the 40-man roster. So don't get carried away with the racial thing. This franchise has a multi-cultural clubhouse.
... Again, the Cardinals have added player of various cultures to the 40-man roster. No big league team gave Jose Martinez a shot until the Cardinals did. Same goes for Rangel Ravelo. Stephen Piscotty moved on for Yairo Munoz. Luke Voit moved on for Giovanny Gallegos. Michael Wacha didn't get another contract, so maybe Alex Reyes and Daniel Ponce de Leon could get a shot at the rotation. And like I said, this team has offered Bader and O'Neill in trade and they could be moved just like Randal Grichuk got moved.
BREBBIA AS THE CLOSER?
QUESTION: If Carlos Martinez is not the opening day closer, the Cards have several internal candidates. The names mentioned most often are Miller, Helsley, Gallegos. Why is John Brebbia's name not on this list? He has the ability, and he certainly has earned the opportunity to compete for that spot.
GORDO: I am a fan of The Beard, but I just don't see closer stuff there. He is a really valuable piece to the bullpen, offering reliability at a very low price. He can close out games here and there. But the closing role seems like a stretch for him.
WHERE SHOULD ROBERT THOMAS PLAY?
QUESTION: We've heard talk in the past of moving Robert Thomas to the wing. But this guy is a future No. 1 center, no?
GORDO: He was projected to be a No. 2 center, but those playmaking skills do suggest that he could be a very solid No. 1 pivot. His ability to control the puck and feel the plays developing are special.
Here's a thought: Keep Schwartz/Schenn and O'Reilly/Perron and try Tarasenko with Thomas next season. Now that would be offensive depth.
MATHENY WITH THE ROYALS
QUESTION: We are a bit concerned about Mike Matheny here in KC. What are his positives and negatives as a manager?
GORDO: I scoff at most of the complaints about his tactical skills because we all heard the same stuff about Ned Yost and you saw how that turned out in KC. Mike became too defensive and stubborn in the STL and he turned off some sections of the clubhouse. He needs to chill it down a few notches, stay engaged with all of his players and take advice a bit more freely. I imagine he learned some lessons.
Getting out of the spotlight should help him, too.
QUESTION: Does Edgardo Rodriguez, the the 19-year-old acquired in the Tampa trade, have any chance of being a starting catcher? Why trade for him if not?
GORDO: We're years away from knowing whether he has the potential to become an everyday catcher. But he hit the ball well as a teenager and now we'll see what he does at the short-season level. Why trade for him? He has potential and he's a catcher. Finding a good catcher is really, really hard, so you pile 'em up and let nature run its course.
EVALUATING CUONZO MARTIN
(Asked before Mizzou's 91-75 win over Florida on Saturday)
QUESTION: In Year 3 of Cuonzo Martin, what do you make of the program? Obviously a big upgrade from Kim Anderson, but the program feels a little stale already. Is it fair to expect Mizzou to be a tournament team year in and year out?
GORDO: Martin's record would be much, much better if both Porters and Tilmon had stayed healthy. I'm guessing he would have two NCAA berths and one pretty good NCAA run under his belt already. That said, the failure of several players to take a big step this season is a concern. So is the offensive incompetence. If you play slow, you better earn easy baskets while operating with efficiency. This team plays slow and runs a terrible offense.
Cuonzo will need to add grad transfer firepower and get fresh coaching eyes on that offense next season. In Year 4 he will be in must-win mode.
ENTHUSIASM FOR THE XFL?
QUESTION: Has your opinion changed on the XFL from when it was first announced to today? Could it possibly succeed?
GORDO: I expect initial enthusiasm. But I need to see a whole lot more -- TV ratings, revenues, fans caring enough to bet on these games -- to start giving the XFL a chance to survive where every other such league failed.
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