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SANTA MONICA, Calif. — As Patrick Mahomes settles in for the second offseason of his NFL career, one that is undoubtedly different than his first, he has plenty of goals on his mind. No. 1 is obviously winning the Super Bowl, but as far as the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback’s hopes off the field, increasing his presence in the world of Call of Duty seems to be pretty high up there.
The NFL’s newest bona fide superstar indulged in one of his biggest hobbies on Tuesday with a visit to Treyarch, the Santa Monica video games developer behind the ever-popular Call of Duty: Black Ops franchise. There, Mahomes received a tour of the facility where his favorite video games are made and a chance to play with the new maps of Operation Grand Heist, the downloadable content for Black Ops 4 released Tuesday.
Unfortunately, the gameplay did come with some sour news. Mahomes’ preferred weapon, the Maddox RFB, had been nerfed.
Patrick Mahomes can’t play basketball, so Call of Duty instead
In the pantheon of breakout seasons in the NFL, Mahomes’ 2018 undoubtedly resides in the inner circle. What else is there to say about a quarterback who entered a season with one career start after sitting behind Alex Smith and finished with 5,097 passing yards, 50 passing touchdowns and a Chiefs team with an AFC-best 12-4 record?
It was a life-changing season, though Mahomes said his offseason activities haven’t changed much in its wake beyond an improvement in nutrition and trying out yoga.
The way Mahomes breaks it down, his offseason — outside of events like accepting the NFL MVP award and doing pre-Super Bowl interviews with Kevin Hart — has been composed of three main activities: working out, golf and Call of Duty. Basketball did make a quick appearance, until the Chiefs deemed it too much of a risk for the biggest pillar of their franchise.
“No more basketball. Basketball lasted all of one time,” Mahomes said with a chuckle.
Mahomes said he did manage to get in an hour or two of Call of Duty per week during the season, but he’s now playing hours per day, much to the chagrin of a certain housemate.
“My girlfriend, she gets mad at me sometimes when you start playing Call of Duty, and then you look down and it’s, like, three hours from where you started,” Mahomes said. “I might get a knock at the door in the game room that says I need to stop playing, but I usually get a couple matches in after that.”
That habit was likely only solidified Tuesday, where Mahomes went 2-1 with a healthy kill/death ratio despite his slightly weakened weapon. He might have been the best player among a group composed mostly of journalists at the event, had it not been for a Treyarch designer playing three screens down.
Patrick Mahomes’ thoughts on Kliff Kingsbury, Kareem Hunt
Of course, as Mahomes works out and plays his golf and Call of Duty, the NFL’s never-ending news cycle continues. Two of the highest-profile items have an extra connection to Mahomes with the Arizona Cardinals’ hiring of his Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Cleveland Browns’ signing of his former teammate, Kareem Hunt.
Kingsbury’s hire was the most eyebrow-raising of an unusual coach hiring cycle, as the Cardinals have charged a man that had a losing record at Texas Tech and holds no NFL coaching experience whatsoever with turning around a franchise that went an NFL-worst 3-13 last season.
Mahomes unsurprisingly heaped praise upon Kingsbury, saying his offensive mind and work ethic will make him a natural fit for the NFL.
“I was a baseball player that just started playing football and he made me into this quarterback,” Mahomes said. “I think he’s going to mesh in beautifully. I don’t know what the perfect adjective is, but his work ethic and the way he’s able to create offensively and how innovative he is and how he’s able to relate to players, all that stuff transfers.”
Hunt was released from the Chiefs late in the regular season after video emerged of the running back kicking a woman on the ground in a Cleveland hotel. He has since been given a second chance with the Browns. Mahomes noted his relationship with Hunt was positive, but said he has not talked to him since the season ended.
“I communicated with him a little bit during the season,” Mahomes said. “He was a great teammate and someone that I came in with, but at the same time, you have to let all that stuff happen off the field. He needs to talk to the people and figure out a situation so that he might get another opportunity on the field.”
Mahomes’ offseason competition
Mahomes is one of a horde of Call of Duty players in his generation whose interest in the franchise began with 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, though he possesses even earlier memories of playing MVP Baseball 2003 alongside his father, former MLB pitcher Pat Mahomes.
As far as other sports games go, Mahomes said he doesn’t play the Madden NFL games, despite likely being on a short list of future cover athletes for the franchise. As he put it, he plays enough football at his day job.
Nowadays, Mahomes is still playing Call of Duty with a group of friends that go back to his early teenage years, when gameplay ran from the end of football practice to when he went to sleep.
“It hasn’t [changed]. They treat me exactly the same as when I was a little kid,” Mahomes said. “They still talk trash, still kinda rip at me a bit, but at the same time, we like to just go out, play Call of Duty and talk about each other’s lives at the same time.”
Playing is mostly limited to private parties, so Mahomes’ distinctive voice still hasn’t caused him to be recognized through online chat. Included in those parties are Chiefs teammates Tyreek Hill, Anthony Hitchens and Gehrig Dieter. Mahomes insists he’s the best player of the group, though they have called that into question.
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