MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports­­

We just can’t have a Super Bowl anymore unless there is a GOAT and a goat, perceived or otherwise.

This is the day and age of hype and shill because the main event and everything that comes with it is about the television ratings. We can’t merely have a great Super Bowl or a great World Series, we have to be convinced that what we just watched was the greatest Super Bowl and the greatest World Series of all time.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the latest GOAT, and he may very well be by the time he’s finished. Certainly he has gotten off to as good of a start as anyone likely has before him.

Not one problem here with Mahomes, his game or his way, but I have always been under this misguided notion that a body of work should be complete before we hand down our final verdict on it. But, hey, I’m a newspaper guy, so what do I know?

In the case of the just-completed Super Bowl, a 25-22 Kansas City overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers, the goat is 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan because he elected to take the ball first in the overtime.

The 49ers’ overtime possession, of course, started strong but resulted in only a field goal, setting the stage for Mahomes to take the Chiefs downfield on its possession for the game-winning touchdown.

Shanahan said his rationale was, “We wanted the ball third. If both teams matched and scored, we wanted to be the ones who had the chance to go win,” as after each team has a possession, every possession to follow is sudden death.

But because a few 49ers players said afterward they didn’t know the overtime rules, it was put out there that Shanahan didn’t know the rules and that he is ill-prepared and terrible, which is absolutely not true.

Of course, there’s far more to it than that, as Shanahan has made it to the Super Bowl three times — once as the offensive coordinator with the 2016 Atlanta Falcons and twice as the head coach with the 2019 and 2023 49ers — with all three resulting in three of the largest lost leads in Super Bowl history:

First there was the 25-point blown lead to the New England Patriots as the Falcons offensive coordinator seven years ago, though I believe that’s not one to put on an offensive coordinator.

The second one was the 10-point lost lead to the Chiefs as the 49ers head coach in 2019, with the third one coming Monday night when the 49ers had led the Chiefs 10-0 right up to a Kansas City field goal at the end of the half.

The 25-point blown lead is still almost too hard to believe, but, again, I believe the head coach has to wear that one, and he’s currently wearing it in burgundy and gold as the Washington Commanders just hired Dan Quinn to be their new head coach.

Keep in mind, as well, that all three lost leads came to teams quarterbacked by previous GOAT Tom Brady and his GOAT successor Mahomes. So what’s the solution here, the GOAT or the goat?

Shanahan has also become the latest head coach in the NFL who “will never win the big one,” following in the footsteps of slugs such as Don Shula and, oh, that’s right, Andy Reid, who now has won two big ones in a row and three in the last five years.

It was said Shula would never win the big one after his Baltimore Colts were drummed by the Cleveland Browns in the 1964 NFL championship game, were hosed by the NFL in 1965 against the eventual champion Green Bay Packers in the semifinals, didn’t even make the playoffs in 1967 despite an 11-1-2 record, then, of course, lost Super Bowl 3 to the New York Jets.

It didn’t help when his upstart Miami Dolphins lost in the first round of the playoffs in 1970, then lost in the Super Bowl in 1971. But Shula finally won that big one, not once but twice, the next two years, guiding the Dolphins to an undefeated season in 1972 and finishing his career with the NFL-record 347 wins for a coach.

Shula did all right, and so has Reid who didn’t win a Super Bowl until his 21st season as a head coach after starting out 1-5 in conference championship games. So Kyle Shanahan, who is such a good coach, is going to be all right, too.

As for the Chiefs, their status as a dynasty is getting there, though I still contend not just yet. It is very close, though, because this was their so-called regroup year in NFL salary-cap vernacular. This was the year to get the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Buffalo Bills, the Baltimore Ravens and the 49ers failed to do so.

Face it, just over halfway through the season when Kansas City wide receivers couldn’t catch a pass, most of us thought the wheels had fallen off the cart, which makes this talk of their being a dynasty right now all the more compelling.

By the way, pitchers and catchers report today, so all of us are going to be all right as well.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT