“Who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl?”
Lots of people ask me that question for this Sunday’s Super Bowl LIV (that’s the Roman numeral for 54) between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.
The question makes sense. It’s more fun to have a team to root for in a big game. Most fans’ favorite teams have been eliminated.
But I’ll let you in on a secret: Many people who write about sports don’t root for a particular team. Sportswriters root for the best story. There are some good ones in Super Bowl LIV. Let’s take a look.
Raheem Mostert: The San Francisco running back was the star of the National Football Conference (NFC) championship game. He gained 220 yards on 29 carries and scored four touchdowns.
But Mostert wasn’t always a star. When he came out of Purdue University in 2015, none of the 32 teams in the National Football League (NFL) drafted him. Mostert signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent.
But the Eagles cut him. In the next two years, Mostert was signed by, and then cut by, five more NFL teams. He
finally stuck with the 49ers mostly because of his ability to play on special teams (the players who run downfield on punts and kickoffs).
You have to root for anyone who hangs on to his NFL dreams after getting cut by six teams. Mostert is a great story and a wonderful example for kids of why they should never give up.
Patrick Mahomes: Quarterbacks are always a big story at the Super Bowl, and Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs is one of the best.
He burst onto the scene last year during his second NFL season by throwing for more than 5,000 yards and an amazing 50 touchdowns. Mahomes missed a couple of games this season, so he threw for “only” 4,031 yards and 26 touchdowns.
He has heated up, however, during the playoffs. Mahomes threw a total of eight touchdown passes in the Chiefs’ wins over the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans.
Some of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers — are getting older and moving out of the spotlight. If Mahomes, who is 24 years old, wins a Super Bowl ring, he may replace the older guys as the biggest star in the NFL.
There are more stories. Kansas City head coach Andy Reid is looking for his first Super Bowl championship after 21 seasons as a head coach in the NFL and more than 200 wins. Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers’ head coach, led his team to a record of 13-3 (13 wins, 3 losses) in 2019 after going 4-12 in 2018.
Of course, there’s another question everyone asks: “Who do you think will win the Super Bowl?” I say: the 49ers, 30-24.