Not since Len Dawson guided the Kansas City Chiefs to the Super Bowl IV title has the team had such an elite quarterback at the centerpiece of the offense and the team.
But even Patrick Mahomes, who’s been the starting QB since 2018, knows he’s not the sum of all the parts on offense and defense. Here are five guys not named Mahomes who also bring something special to the Chiefs:
Travis Kelce, tight end
No. 87, 30 years old, 6-5, 260 lbs.
A national television audience was treated to Travis Kelce’s fiery personality after the Chiefs’ 35-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans — landing them in Super Bowl LIV.
In an interview with CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz, Kelce wrapped up the postgame segment on the field by borrowing from the Beastie Boys.
“I’ve learned one thing since I’ve been here,” Kelce told the red-clad crowd. “You’ve got to fight for your right to PARRRRRRTY!”
Late in the season, Kelce achieved an NFL milestone against the Denver Broncos: becoming the first tight end in league history to compile more than 1,000 receiving yards in four consecutive seasons.
The first two of those were with QB Alex Smith. The last two? Mahomes. But Kelce said after the game it’s not just about the star.
“I think it goes even further with coach Andy Reid,” he said. “His (Reid’s) demeanor during the week, his ability to challenge everybody to play at a certain level (and) to play with a certain amount of discipline.”
Funny, considering Kelce used to draw unsportsmanlike penalties and hurt the Chiefs.
Tyrann Mathieu, safety
No. 32, 27 years old, 5-9, 190 lbs.
Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off of LSU’s football team in 2012 by Les Miles (who’s now the head coach at the University of Kansas) because Mathieu violated unspecified team rules.
Though he was only a junior, Mathieu was known nationally as the “Honey Badger” — like the animal, he was small in stature, but cunning.
After he left LSU, Mathieu spent five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, then a year in Houston before Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach snatched up the Honey Badger from the free-agent market and gave him a three-year contract.
Mathieu started all 16 regular-season games and both games in the postseason. He has four interceptions, two sacks and is considered the leader of the defense. He hopes for one more thing this season: Winning Super Bowl LIV.
“My job here is to finish the job,” he said.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, guard
No. 76, 28 years old, 6-5, 321 lbs.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is part of the Chiefs offensive line; he helps protect Mahomes from charging defensive lineman.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid simply calls him Larry, and says Duvernay-Tardif is part of an offense that’s brainy and brawny.
“We might have, academically, one of the smartest groups,” Reid said, laughing. “We’ve got a doctor! C’mon!”
Duvernay-Tardif has graduated from medical school and worked at a hospital in the offseason. So he knows when to be careful with his body. In last year’s AFC Championship game against New England, he could have played, but wasn’t fully recovered from a broken leg that he suffered in the fifth game of the season.
“Personally for me last year, I was injured (and) working my way back in,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “So it’s a totally different mindset this year where I feel really confident and fresh.”
Xavier Williams, defensive tackle
No. 98, 28 years old, 6-2, 309 lbs.
Though sidelined for most of this season because of an ankle injury, defensive tackle Xavier Williams returned to the active roster just in time to help the Chiefs achieve something personal.
Williams grew up in Grandview, Missouri. His mom was born in 1970, the same year the Chiefs won Super Bowl IV. They haven’t been back since.
“My mom would tell me stories about how my grandpa used to hang out with some of the older Chiefs players and catch them around town,” he said. “Yeah, it runs deep.”
Eric Fisher, left tackle
No. 72, 29 years old, 6-7, 315 lbs.
Eric Fisher was the Chiefs’ top pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and the league’s overall No. 1 pick. Now, he works alongside Duvernay-Tardif on the offensive line.
Fisher had a moment of euphoria earlier this month during the Chiefs’ comeback win over Houston (after trailing 24-0). He doused himself with a beer handed to him from a fan the grandstands.
The league fined him $14,000, but could you blame him? The Chiefs were bouncing back and propelling themselves to hosting the AFC Championship. And we all know how that turned out.
Greg Echlin is a freelance sports reporter for KCUR 89.3. Find him on Twitter at @GregEchlin.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify Laurent Duvernay-Tardif’s work in the off-season.