Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback I've ever seen, but his chances of ever becoming acknowledged as the greatest quarterback in NFL history took a helmet to the chin on Sunday.
Because judging the greatest can't simply be a function of opinion, or feelings. Facts have to be invited into the discussion. After Tom Brady guided the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 31-9 victory over Mahomes' Chiefs in Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Mahomes' chances of catching Brady in the argument-ending category of Super Bowl victories became as remote as Bill Belichick throwing a parade for his former quarterback.
Brady is 7-3 in Super Bowls, giving him more championships than any franchise, and he's not retiring. Mahomes has won one Super Bowl.
Brady has won more Super Bowl MVP awards than any other quarterback has won Super Bowls as a starter. With his seventh Super Bowl victory as a starting quarterback, Brady may have set the rare unbreakable sports record.
Had the Chiefs won on Sunday, Mahomes would have cut Brady's advantage in Super Bowl victories to 6-2. At 25, with the likelihood of a long career in creative offenses ahead of him, four more Super Bowls would seem like a reasonable goal.
But after Sunday's loss, Mahomes now needs to win six more to tie Brady, and Brady is the only quarterback who has ever won more than four. Even great players who enjoyed long careers for dynastic teams, like Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw, couldn't win more than four.
The Chiefs' loss also highlighted all of the ways a Super Bowl can go wrong for a quarterback, in ways that a quarterback can't control.
During the week, Britt Reid, the son of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, admitted to having consumed alcohol before getting into an auto accident that left a 5-year-old with brain damage. How did that tragedy affect the Chiefs? There is no way of knowing, but the Chiefs were outcoached.
The Bucs received the benefit of a slew of borderline penalties that extended their drives and led to points. Another negated an interception of Brady.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce dropped a couple of key passes, and Mecole Hardman seemed unaware of a couple of important passes, and Darrel Williams dropped a touchdown, and the Chiefs' injury-depleted offensive line gave Mahomes little time. His scrambling and running produced a few first downs but not the touchdowns Kansas City needed to stay in the game.
The Chiefs' injuries and mistakes, along with Brady's accuracy, led to a first for Brady: a blowout victory in the Super Bowl. He had never before won by more than 10.
In three consecutive postseason games, he beat Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes.
Years from now, the circumstances will hardly matter. History will remember this story: Brady left a slumping dynasty and won a Super Bowl in his first year with a team that went 7-9 the year before he arrived to win his seventh title.
Brady didn't need another Super Bowl title to burnish his resume. He was already the most accomplished quarterback in NFL history. What he did on Sunday was preempt arguments for years, perhaps decades, to come.
Sunday night, standing on yet another stage, amid another batch of confetti, Brady looked at a sea of teammates and said, "We came together at the right time. I think we knew this was going to happen, right?''
He said of his Patriots championships: "I'm not making any comparisons.''
Mahomes remains my favorite quarterback to watch, the quarterback I would want to build a team around.
But Brady has facts on his side. Who knows when or if that will change?
The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews after the game.