Watching Patrick Mahomes on the field is like witnessing a modern-day Peyton Manning. The echoes of Manning’s influence reverberate through Mahomes’s journey.

The Mentorship of a Legend: How Peyton Manning Shaped Patrick Mahomes

When Patrick Mahomes was drafted 10th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017, he had big shoes to fill as the potential franchise quarterback of the future. But he had an invaluable mentor waiting in the wings to help guide his development – Peyton Manning, who was entering his final NFL season after a legendary career. Though their playing careers only briefly overlapped in Kansas City, Manning left an indelible mark on Mahomes that is still evident in his game today. Through mentorship, emulation of playing style, dedication to work ethic, and championship aspirations, Manning played a pivotal role in shaping Mahomes into the superstar QB he is today.

Mentorship from Manning

As a young backup behind Alex Smith in 2017, Mahomes had the unique opportunity to learn directly from Manning on a daily basis. Though nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career, Manning was still as dedicated as ever to film study, practice, and imparting wisdom. He took Mahomes under his wing, meeting with him regularly to go over offensive concepts, dissect defenses, and share invaluable insights gained over 18 NFL seasons.

“Just being in the quarterback room with him and listening to his conversations with [offensive coordinator] Matt Nagy and [quarterbacks coach] Mike Kafka, it was awesome to hear his perspective on the game,” Mahomes recalled. Manning helped break down plays simply and gave Mahomes a deeper understanding of reading coverages. He stressed precision with footwork and mechanics.

Most importantly, Manning showed Mahomes what it took to be a leader at the position. “The way he went about his business and the way he handled himself, it was special to be around a guy like that,” Mahomes said. Though only teammates for one season, Manning left a lasting impression of dedication and professionalism on his young understudy.

Similar Playing Styles

While their physical talents differed, Manning and Mahomes share similarities in their playing styles that have been crucial to Mahomes’ development. Both are cerebral quarterbacks who excel at dissecting defenses pre- and post-snap. They thrive outside the pocket, extending plays with their legs and eyes downfield. And their accuracy is unmatched across all areas of the field.

Mahomes has said Manning helped him refine these skills. “Watching his film and seeing the reads he made, seeing the footwork he had to extend plays in the pocket, it was really helpful,” Mahomes noted. Manning set the standard for reading defenses that Mahomes strives to replicate. His footwork and pocket presence provided a model for Mahomes to study.

Their shared ability to diagnose coverages and make pinpoint throws is a big reason Mahomes has flourished in Kansas City’s offense. Emulating Manning’s mental and physical talents has been a key part of Mahomes’ path to stardom. As he told Sports Illustrated, “I try to play the game the way he played – with intelligence and precision.” Having Manning’s playing style to learn from firsthand accelerated Mahomes’ development tremendously.

Work Ethic Like Manning’s

Another area where Mahomes has followed Manning’s example is his relentless work ethic. Manning was legendary for his film study and preparation habits. He treated every practice, meeting, and game with the utmost seriousness and focus. That dedication clearly left an impact on Mahomes.

“The work that he put in, you could see it every single day,” Mahomes said. “In the facility early, leaving late. Always getting as much information as he could to have success on Sundays.” Mahomes has adopted that same workmanlike mentality, spending hours poring over opponents’ tendencies, honing his craft, and leaving no stone unturned.

Teammates and coaches rave about Mahomes’ football IQ and how much time he devotes to the mental side of the game. “He’s always watching film, always trying to learn more,” said Travis Kelce. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said: “This guy is a grinder. He’s a student of the game. He’s in early, he’s staying late. He’s picking the brains of the coaches.” That level of commitment is directly attributable to the example Manning set.

Championship Aspirations

Beyond skills and work ethic, Manning provided Mahomes an up-close look at what it takes to achieve team success. Manning won a Super Bowl in his second season and added a second ring later in his career. His teams were perennial contenders who expected nothing less than competing for championships. That winning mentality clearly rubbed off on Mahomes.

“Seeing the way he went about winning and being a champion, that’s something I try to do here as well,” Mahomes said. In just his second season as a starter, Mahomes led the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl title in 50 years. He wants to build a dynasty, and Manning showed him how to maximize his talents and those around him to sustain long-term success.

From the meticulous preparation to the killer instinct in big moments, Mahomes learned invaluable lessons by observing Manning’s championship DNA. He wants to follow the path Manning blazed and cement his own legacy as one of the greats. Having a front-row seat to Manning’s leadership and will to win in crucial situations undoubtedly lit a fire inside Mahomes to replicate that success.

Lasting Influence

Nearly five years after their brief Chiefs tenure together ended, Manning’s fingerprints remain all over Mahomes’ game. From mentorship on the intricacies of the position to emulating his playing style, work habits, and championship mentality, Manning played an immeasurable role in accelerating Mahomes’ development. At just 26 years old, Mahomes is already a Super Bowl champion and reigning MVP with his best years likely still ahead.

His connection to Manning shows no signs of fading either. The two QBs remain in contact, with Manning still providing advice and praise for Mahomes’ accomplishments. “He’s been a great mentor for me since I got into the league,” Mahomes said. As his career progresses, Mahomes will continue drawing from the wisdom imparted by the quarterback he still looks up to – Peyton Manning, who left an indelible mark on helping shape one of the new faces of the NFL.

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