By JOSH DUBOW
There has never been a Super Bowl matchup of accomplished quarterbacks quite like the one coming up next week between Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes.
This will be the sixth Super Bowl matchup between former AP NFL MVPs, the second between former Super Bowl MVP winning quarterbacks and the first between players who had previously won both awards.
Brady has won a record six Super Bowl titles, four Super MVPs and three league MVP awards since becoming starter in New England in 2001.
Mahomes is just getting started in his career and already has one league MVP and one Super Bowl MVP to his credit and is back in the title game for the second time.
The first Super Bowl matchup of former league MVPs came in the 1976 season when Oakland’s Ken Stabler (1974 winner) beat Minnesota’s Fran Tarkenton (1975 winner).
Denver’s John Elway was part of the next two MVP matchups, losing to San Francisco’s Joe Montana after the 1989 season and beating Green Bay’s Brett Favre eight years later.
Then it happened again in back-to-back seasons in 2015-16 with Denver’s Peyton Manning besting Carolina’s Cam Newton and Brady beating Atlanta’s Matt Ryan.
Brady was also part of the only previous matchup of Super Bowl MVPs losing a rematch to Eli Manning and the New York Giants following the 2011 season.
This will also be the second time in NFL history that the past two championship quarterbacks are facing off in the title game. The only other time it happened came in 1943 when Washington’s Sammy Baugh faced Chicago’s Sid Luckman. Baugh had won the title with Washington in 1942 and Luckman with the Bears in 1941.
Brady is also the fourth quarterback to start Super Bowls for two franchises, joining Peyton Manning (Indianapolis and Denver), Kurt Warner (Rams and Arizona) and Craig Morton (Dallas and Denver).
CELEBRATE AT HOME: The Bucs will be the first team to play the Super Bowl at their home stadium, although two others got to play for the title in their home markets.
In the 1979 season, the Los Angeles Rams went to the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, where they lost 31-19 to the Steelers.
Five years later, the San Francisco 49ers won the title just a few miles south of their home at Candlestick Park with a 38-16 win over the Miami Dolphins at Stanford Stadium.
With a win Feb. 7, the Bucs will be the first team in the NFL, NBA, NHL or Major League Baseball to win it all at its home venue since the Golden State Warriors did it in the 2017 NBA Finals against Cleveland. Every title since then was clinched on the road or in a neutral site at the Super Bowl or in a coronavirus bubble.
The last time the NFL champion finished the season by winning a title at its own stadium came in the 1965 season when Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers beat the Cleveland Browns 23-12 at Lambeau Field in the final season before the Super Bowl.
GOING WILD: Tampa Bay was the first team in 10 years to make it to the Super Bowl despite not winning the division.
The Bucs are hoping to follow the path the Green Bay Packers took in the 2010 season when they finished second in the NFC North but went on to win the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh.
The Packers were the sixth wild-card team to win it all, joining the Oakland Raiders (1980 season), Denver (1997), Baltimore (2000), Pittsburgh (2005) and the New York Giants (2007).
No team has even made it to the Super Bowl after playing in the wild-card round since 2012 when Baltimore and San Francisco did it. The Ravens won that game 34-31.
KEEP IT CLOSE: No one has been able to blow out Patrick Mahomes since he took over as Chiefs starter in 2018. Mahomes has lost just nine games as a starter with the most lopsided being a 40-32 defeat to the Raiders this past October for his only loss in his past 26 starts.
He has also lost twice by seven points, twice by six, three times by three and once by one point. The last time Mahomes lost by more than one possession in a game came in his final year in college at Texas Tech, when the Red Raiders fell 66-10 to Iowa State on Nov. 19, 2016.