“Music is a huge part of my pregame routine,” Patrick Mahomes said recently. “It’s how I help get my head in the game.”
Now, Mahomes’ head has perhaps been the most talked-about body part in sports the past few days, ever since a bell-ringing collision knocked him out of last weekend’s AFC divisional playoff game and into the National Football League’s concussion protocol.
The Kansas City quarterback is well aware of the noise surrounding his status, given how many believe a weakened version of himself is the only thing capable of stopping the Chiefs from repeating as Super Bowl champions.
Assuming he’s good to go against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Mahomes will turn to a familiar source – and sound – to drown out the chatter of whether he’ll be at his best … His music.
I managed to get some specifics and data relating to what Mahomes plays in the locker room while he is priming himself for big games, thanks to a timely assist from EarBuds, the playlist-sharing app he uses and has invested in.
Mahomes is so into his music that fiancée Brittany Matthews gifted him a DJ board for Christmas and his song choices in the build-up to the most significant games of his career give an intriguing reveal into his mindset.
Given that I’m 42 and nowhere near cool (or knowledgeable) enough to comment on such things, I persuaded Los Angeles-based music producer and songwriter Brooks Ivory to go through Mahomes’ most-played tracks and artists and delve into what it all meant.
Mahomes’ selections drift from rap to pop and electronic dance music and his most frequently played song is “No Bystanders” by Travis Scott. The average beats per minute of his favorites is a speedy 137 bpm, but his set includes chilled vibes such as J. Cole’s “The Climb Back.”
“Travis Scott is known for his bangers and ‘No Bystanders’ this is definitely one of those,” Ivory told me. “There are a lot of themes in there for an athlete like Mahomes – revenge, travel, motivation.”
Ivory added the pre-chorus, “(expletive) the club up” is also the kind of repetitive rhythmic beat to get the mind fired up and the feet moving before battle.
Ivory broke down several other tunes:
“1.5’’ by 21 Savage: reflects “the mentality that he’s on top.”
“My Moment’’ by DJ Drama, feat. 2 Chainz, Meek Mill & Jeremih: “shows a desire to win” and “that Mahomes feels he still has something to prove.” The lyrics also allude to work ethic – “if I don’t grind, I don’t shine.”
“Under the Sun’’ by Dreamville: After signing a $450 million contract, “Mahomes can probably relate to the chorus that says ‘I woke up with some money.’’’
“Every Season’’ by Roddy Ricch: “this shows the confidence in Mahomes’ game. It refers to ‘Ballin’ out every season.’ He’s been doing that since college.”
“Camelot” by NLE Choppa: “likely just something he plays to get in a good mood.”
“Life is Good’’ by Future feat. Drake: “Whenever Drake puts out a song it has a good vibe. Mahomes is probably just vibing out to this.”
“The Climb Back’’ by J. Cole: “Mahomes likes his party music but he must also have a side where he thinks about deeper things. It’s hard to listen to J. Cole and not go into focus mode.”
Mahomes got involved with EarBuds by chance, having met founder and former NFL player Jason Fox at a bachelor party for a mutual friend and listening to the concept over a round of golf. Ever since, Mahomes has gone live with his pregame playlists, including before his Super Bowl triumph over the San Francisco 49ers, which was followed by more than 10,000 subscribers. After the company recently agreed to a deal with Android, those numbers are expected to climb.
“We get inspired by seeing what the best of the best do and how they prepare to perform,” Fox, who came up with the playlist-sharing idea after watching Cam Newton jam out before the Carolina Panthers met Fox’s Miami Dolphins, said via telephone. “Patrick is incredible at what he does and the music he listens to is a part of generating that focus. On top of that he is one of the most popular athletes we’ve seen and sharing his playlist is another way for him to connect with his fans.”
Proceeding to another Super Bowl appearance seemed like a formality for Mahomes until the latter stages of last weekend’s clash with the Cleveland Browns. After Mahomes left the game, Chad Henne came up big with two clutch plays, aided by some inspired Andy Reid playcalling. Oddsmakers are basing their lines off the assumption Mahomes will play on Sunday, with FOX Bet listing the Chiefs as 3-point favorites.
If this season turns into another success story for the Chiefs, it will be a further chapter in the success story of Mahomes, who has weathered his rapid rise with a notable lack of fluster. He told the Kansas City Star that the lyrics and beats of his preferred tunes play a part in finding the balance between intensity and innovation on the field.
“I just enjoy music in general and the different, creative ways you are able to express who you are,” Mahomes said. “I just want to be able to kind of do that, use that to kind of put myself in a good mood no matter what I’m in and what type of thing I’m going to do.”
There are now just three games to go to cap a remarkable season. On Sunday, one of the most cherished days on the sports calendar awaits, with a doubleheader of championship game action. As unthinkable as it sounds, on a day that features two of the best to ever play the quarterback position in Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, Mahomes will be the biggest star on display.
“Player most likely to surprise you Sunday? The biggest X-Factor on Sunday? Most underrated storyline headed into Sunday? The player with the most bragging rights on the line? The player most likely to have the play of the day? (It’s) Patrick Mahomes,” said FS1’s Nick Wright on First Things First.
The AFC decider is a superb matchup between the defending champion and an emerging Bills threat, bolstered by Josh Allen and a resolute unit on both sides of the ball, determined to make the most of a breakout season.
For all Buffalo’s shine, it is hard to see how the Bills can survive if Mahomes, the most dynamic offensive force in the game, plays to his fullest potential.
In the words of DJ Drama (I might be old but I’m learning) he’s “just waiting on that moment.”
Here’s what others have said …
Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report: “Where we are right now, it’s Allen and Mahomes who most have the combo of talent inside them and weapons around them to dominate the conversation under center in the AFC for a similarly extended period as Brady and Manning—much to the despair of the rest of the conference. Sunday we’ll find out which one gets bragging rights in the first go-round between the two with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. And we could all be bearing witness to the beginning of an epic struggle for dominance of the AFC between two outstanding players whose best days (we hope) are still to come.“
Max Kellerman, ESPN: “Mahomes is the one player in the history of the NFL that I’ve ever watched who I think, if he plays, his team wins the Super Bowl, every year. If he’s healthy, they win the Super Bowl again. That’s the only player I can ever say that about, and that includes Aaron Rodgers.”
Rodger Sherman, The Ringer: “There hasn’t been a better matchup all season than Sunday’s AFC championship between the Chiefs and Bills, a game that features the conference’s two most entertaining quarterbacks.”
|“Sports without music, it’s nothing but a game. Music adds the emotion.” — Ice Cube|