Special Briefing: A Tale of Two Quarterbacks
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because quarterbacks are everything.
By Dan Peleschuk
This is an OZY Special Briefing, an extension of the Presidential Daily Brief. The Special Briefing tells you what you need to know about an important issue, individual or story that is making news. Each one serves up an interesting selection of facts, opinions, images and videos in order to catch you up and vault you ahead.
WHAT TO KNOW
What’s happening? Capping a stunning season for both teams, the Kansas City Chiefs will face off against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV Sunday in Miami. While the Chiefs (favored by 1.5 points) will appear in the big game for the first time since 1970, the 49ers are making their fifth appearance — and gunning for their first win in 25 years.
Why does it matter? It’s not just the national championship on the line: Each squad sports a uniquely talented quarterback who represents a different vision for the all-important position. The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, 24, shows how dual threat QBs are increasingly in vogue, while the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo, 28, proves why the steady hand of a dependable (if not exactly flashy) system thrower matters. Whoever wins may have the last word on which style thrives in the future.
HOW TO THINK ABOUT IT
Boy wonder. Mahomes is already an NFL great after just two seasons as a starter. Bouncing back from an early-season knee injury, last year’s MVP established himself as the fulcrum around which head coach Andy Reid’s “air raid” offense has swung. But he’s also wowed fans and analysts with his uncanny athleticism, such as zig-zagging his way 27 yards into the end zone to push the Chiefs over the Tennessee Titans in the conference title game. It’s the same kind of flair showcased by likely 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson, as well as soon-to-be-drafted college talent Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma and Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama.
Learning from the best. Then there’s “Jimmy G” — in many ways, the polar opposite of Mahomes. Rarely throwing deep and almost never rushing, he’s a quarterback’s QB: Staying cool behind the line of scrimmage, he watches and waits for receivers, a smart game manager whose accuracy and poise under pressure recalls a certain other quarterback lifted from obscurity by New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick. In fact, Tom Brady even texted Jimmy G., who served as a backup to the legendary QB, this week to wish him luck. At Super Bowl media night, Garoppolo said: “Your past is always part of you.”
Coach vs. coach. It’s not just two very different players going head-to-head this weekend. Having racked up 221 career wins, veteran yet innovative coach Reid is hoping for his first-ever victory in a title game he hasn’t been to in 15 years. On the other sideline will be third-season newbie Kyle Shanahan, whose father, Mike, led the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl victories in the late ‘90s. Reid’s an old dog who’s always learning new tricks, while 40-year-old Shanahan is the play-crafting prodigy who’s already cementing an impressive legacy.
Enjoy the show. Let’s not forget halftime, though: Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will both hit the stage — the first time a pair of Latinas have headlined the coveted event, with 100 million people watching. Both performers can draw on decades of hits, and they represent a nod to Miami’s large Latino population. In recent years, the half-time stage has become a controversial choice for some artists, considering how the league handled the Colin Kaepernick protests (among too many other controversies to count). But last year, the NFL signed a deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation label to improve its live events and “amplify the league’s social justice efforts.” Turns out, Shakira is managed by Roc Nation.
WHAT TO READ
Kansas City’s Sack-Master Is the Super Bowl X Factor, by Jeff Fedotin on OZY
“The pivotal task of taking on San Francisco’s bruising rushing attack falls to the Chiefs’ defense, with the 26-year-old [Frank] Clark as its beating, bombastic heart.”
Film Study: 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo Is Far More Than a Game Manager, by Ben Volin in The Boston Globe
“He was the only quarterback to finish in the top five in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and touchdown passes. When called upon, Garoppolo carried his team.”
WHAT TO WATCH
Super Bowl 2020 Is Defining Moment for Patrick Mahomes
“There’s only so much in this game he can control, and if you’ve got this 49ers meat grinder offense…it doesn’t matter what Mahomes can do.”
Watch on NBC Sports on YouTube:
Does Jimmy Garoppolo Get Enough Respect?
“When Jimmy G. plays, they win. When Jimmy G. doesn’t play, they lose. That is just how it goes.”
Watch on The Pat McAfee Show on YouTube:
WHAT TO SAY AT THE WATERCOOLER
Money shot. A 30-second Super Bowl ad went for as much as $5.6 million this year — and brands continue to spend big on production too. Jeep, for example, is rolling out Bill Murray, since the game’s taking place on Groundhog Day. Yet football won’t provide an escape from politics: Both President Donald Trump and billionaire Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg plan to air campaign ads during the game (Trump will actually run two). For the latter, who’s already dumped more than $200 million on TV ads, it’s a chance to introduce himself even more widely (and to get under the former’s skin).
- Dan Peleschuk