This old goat going with the young gun in Super Bowl

Until we meet again: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes greets his Tampa Bay counterpart Tom Brady after their last meeting on Thanksgiving. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken, File)
Until we meet again: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes greets his Tampa Bay counterpart Tom Brady after their last meeting on Thanksgiving. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken, File)

Credit: Jason Behnken

Credit: Jason Behnken

Tom Brady is steak and potatoes. Patrick Mahomes is spicy tuna roll.

And yet, here I find myself in this one very specific case siding with the sushi. Now, you would think a stodgy old goat would prefer another old G.O.A.T. After all, certain things are supposed to be done in certain traditional ways. Fish is cooked. Handshakes, when we get around to them again, are firm. Jeans are to be loose-fitting and comfortable. And quarterbacks stand resolutely in the pocket, like a captain on the bridge.

But with a Super Bowl just days away pitting Tampa Bay’s Brady against Kansas City’s Mahomes – greatest-ever standard-issue quarterback vs. next-gen improvisational sensation – surprising how even the proudest coot can be drawn to the latest of the greatest for this single Sunday. True, there has been no good music made since 1971, but thank heavens they are still making quarterbacks that are a great watch.

Brady = Sean Connery’s Bond.

Mahomes = A computer-generated Spiderman.

Again, see, classics are almost always better, more authentic. I’d argue that 95% of the time. Yoda trumps Baby Yoda every time. But Mahomes makes believers of even the staunchest football Luddite. There is just too much intrigue whenever he gets the ball to ever look away and risk not being amazed. He’ll deliver a pass from any angle, off back foot or front or no foot at all. He has even been known to do it left-handed. He’s more accurate on the move than most are set up in perfect instructional video pose.

When the rush gets in Brady’s face, when there is defensive static down around his legs, that can bring out his vulnerability. But with Mahomes, that’s when the fun begins. When his pocket breaks down, he shifts to full Houdini. Go ahead, defense, throw a straight jacket and some heavy chains and locks at him, too. Mahomes will just make that a part of the act.

Brady is straight cash. Mahomes is Bitcoin. Normally I’d side with folding money, but in this case, I’ll make an exception and go new and only partially understandable.

There is no arguing that both men’s styles are still fashionable. Brady, after all, is playing in his Xth Super Bowl, a number that even Bill Russell can look at and say, “Man, that’s pretty good.” Brady didn’t hit non-Roman double figures by being obsolete.

In their different ways, both Brady and Mahomes got to more than 4,600 passing yards this season, with the elder throwing for 40 scores and the kid “only” 38. Nobody this season has taken more shots downfield – 20 yards or more – than Brady. Nobody has converted a higher percentage of those deep passes into touchdowns than Mahomes.

Mahomes was in kindergarten when Brady won his first Super Bowl in 2002, so it is to be expected that the younger man would be a bit more coltish now – Mahomes rushed for 308 yards and 22 first downs this season compared with Brady’s 30 and six. If Sunday comes down to a combine-style 40-yard dash tiebreaker, take Mahomes minus a second-and-a-half.

They are 2-2 head-to-head, with the mother of all rubber matches coming Sunday. They last met on Thanksgiving, with Mahomes throwing for 462 yards in a 27-24 victory. He’s won the past two, which some would call a trend.

With the kind of year we’ve just slogged through, you’d like the believe that here’s a matchup to momentarily lift spirits. The world is owed a compelling Super Bowl, (and here’s hoping the ads don’t pound the theme of overcoming hardship – we don’t need any more messages, just make us laugh, Doritos).

There are no guarantees here, though. The last time Brady was in one of these games, just two years ago, we were given the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever (a 13-3 New England victory over the L.A. Rams). That would be just tedium dressed up in overkill.

This one provides such promise, two eminent quarterbacks separated by 18 years – a generation between them – who provide such intriguing contrasts in greatness. Anything less than a seminar in quarterback play will be a disappointment.

Mahomes is Alexa. Brady is get-up-you-lazy-slob-and-turn-on-your-own-stinkin’-lights. While it is a splendid idea to distrust everything new and flashy, this is one time to believe in the next big thing.

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