Peter King speaks with Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the Chiefs’ locker room following the team’s 35-24 victory over Tennessee to advance to Super Bowl LIV in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also chats with Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, recaps Championship Sunday, and hands out his awards from the weekend.
Additionally, Tony Dungy shares his thoughts on the current state of the Rooney Rule and how to fix it on ProFootballTalk.com. Plus, Chris Simms, and Mike Florio recap the Conference Championship games and break down all of the action across the NFL on PFT Live and Chris Simms Unbuttoned.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
PATRICK MAHOMES & THE CHIEFS
King on Patrick Mahomes: “You know you’ve got the right guy as your forever quarterback when he plays one of the games of his life to get a starved franchise to its first Super Bowl since man walked on the moon, and then he’s just as perfect after the game.”
Andy Reid on Mahomes: “That’s him every day. As a player, he’s special, which everyone can see. As a person, he’s got everything too. He’s the whole package.”
King on Mahomes’ 27-yard TD run: “Patrick Mahomes is 24, and it’s very likely he could play til 44 and never have a run as scintillating and as meaningful as the one he made with 23 seconds left in the first half of the AFC Championship Game on Sunday…The run will live forever in Kansas City lore. It propelled the Chiefs to a Super Bowl date with the 49ers on Feb. 2 in Miami.”
Mahomes on his TD run: “Never would have happened without my guys downfield being doubled. That’s why it was possible. Two guys are doubled, and that left space for me…I haven’t run that far since high school, I don’t think.”
Mahomes on watching last year’s Super Bowl at home: “I used that to just make sure that I did everything to prepare to be in this moment now – and not be sitting at home.”
Mahomes on what Tom Brady told him after last year’s AFC Championship Game: “The biggest thing he said was, ‘Stay with the process and be who you are.’ He didn’t want me to change at all. He wanted me to go out there and take advantage of every single day.”
TONY DUNGY ON THE ROONEY RULE
Dungy: “The spirit of the Rooney Rule is excellent but the current application of it has fallen short of the desired result.”
Dungy: “For many African-American coaches, this January in particular has fostered disappointment, frustration and hurt. That has come as the result of another hiring cycle in which African-American coaches have been left out.”
Dungy: “Do we think that African-Americans are talented and driven enough to play the sport but not talented and driven enough to lead and teach the sport? I don’t think that’s the case.”
Dungy: “I think owners need help identifying quality candidates. And I don’t chalk it all up to racism. I don’t believe there are many people in professional football who would intentionally bypass a candidate they thought could take them to the playoffs or to a Super Bowl simply because of their race. However, I do believe there are owners who don’t know all of the best candidates or how to find them.”
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
49ers tackle Joe Staley to King on if he thought he would ever play in another Super Bowl: “No. Well, once (coach) Kyle (Shanahan) got here, I did. From day one, I believed. I believed when we started, whatever, 0-9 that first year, and when we were 4-12 last year.”
Staley on playing for Shanahan: “He wins, he’s super-creative, and you don’t have to be the most talented player to be able to play for Kyle and this coaching staff. (49ers running back) Raheem Mostert is the perfect example of that.”
King on San Francisco’s rushing style: “It’s interesting that the Kyle Shanahan 49ers, with running backs coach Bobby Turner, judge backs much the same way Mike Shanahan’s Broncos, with running backs coach Bobby Turner, did. Turner is a classic one-cut teacher of backs.”
King on Mostert: “Raheem Mostert, let go by six teams in two years. He wouldn’t quit. Quite a poster child for everything the (John) Lynch/Shanahan 49ers hold dear.”
King on 49ers-Chiefs: “Just as I find it hard to think the Niners will struggle to run it and will certainly torment Mahomes, I think it’s just as hard to think that Mahomes will be shut down…This should be a great football game between the 14-4 Chiefs and the 15-3 Niners, between the imaginative grandfatherly Reid, 61, and the imaginative wunderkind Kyle Shanahan, 40.”
KING’S CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP AWARDS
Offensive Players of the Week: Raheem Mostert, San Francisco, & Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City.
King on Mostert: “No player in one of the game’s great days of the year, Championship Sunday, had a more joyous day than Mostert.”
King on Mahomes: “In his very young career, Mahomes has played four playoff games and has 11 TDs, zero interceptions.”
Defensive Player of the Week: Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City.
King on Mathieu: “They’ll be showing his leveling of Tennessee wide receiver Corey Davis for a two-yard loss on the all-time Mathieu highlight tape; it was clean and intimidating and brutal.”
Coach of the Week: Steve Spagnuolo, defensive coordinator, Kansas City.
King on Spagnuolo: “In designing a plan to stop Derrick Henry, the Chiefs emphasized tackling the 248-pound Redwood low and also being physical with receivers to get them to either drop contested balls or to make them remember a big hit after catching them.”
ADDITIONAL NFL THOUGHTS
King on attending Steve Gleason’s Congressional Gold Medal ceremony this week: “This special-teams player raised in Spokane to be a hero in New Orleans, Gleason, was here because of the tangible difference he’s made in the lives of people with ALS.”
King: “On this day, with the last two commissioners of the NFL on hand, with the most powerful people in government watching, Washington paused for one hour to honor a man wearing Uggs, a faux tuxedo T-shirt, a buzz cut, and red, white and blue painted fingernails.”
Gleason to the audience in attendance: “I suppose I don’t see my story as a football story or an ALS story, but rather as a human story. The truth is, we all experience pain in our lives. But I believe that the problems we face are opportunities and define our human purpose.”
King on a potential 17-game schedule: “With the retirement of Luke Kuechly at 28, coming on the heels of the retirement of Andrew Luck at 29, I ask this: Who thinks it’s a good idea for the short and long-term health of players to add six percent more football to a season?”
King on the Hall of Fame’s Centennial Class: “I wish the Pro Football Hall of Fame would have had more of a founders-of-the-game edge to the 15-man Centennial Class…I may have wanted some different results, but for this one, I’m sitting in the bleachers, watching. Congrats to those who got in.”
King on the Lions and Tua Tagovailoa: “The Lions, at minimum, should do very serious homework on the Alabama QB coming back from his hip injury. I’d be concerned with two high ankle sprains and the hip surgery in the span of 13 months…But if you get past that, how do you pass on him, even with a decent QB situation on your team?”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- Mike Florio and Chris Simms, with guest Peter King, discuss all things NFL on PFT Live, including Conference Championship recaps and previews of Super Bowl LIV.
- On Chris Simms Unbuttoned, Simms and Ahmed Fareed break down film of Championship Games.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on NBCSN’s and NBC Sports Radio’s PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.