KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Arm was the first clue that Patrick Mahomes was some sort of unicorn mutant terminator, perhaps born on Krypton or bitten by a radioactive spider for good measure, with a capacity for shattering norms — the latest of which will be his much-anticipated return to the field on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
If you didn't apprehend something different about him from the most tangible evidence of how far he could heave a football, you might know it from the seemingly supernatural sense of awareness he's displayed constantly on the field since becoming QB1 with the Chiefs in 2018. Indeed, he's so much more than just the arm.
And you got another resounding dose of that right stuff in the seconds after he lay crumpled on the field against Denver last season with a dislocated kneecap that at least symbolically nauseated Chiefs fans.
Presto, no sooner was the kneecap crunched back into place on the field than Mahomes seemed to summon regeneration of his own limb. If you looked for it, you might have seen more swagger than limp in his stride into the locker room in what became his first steps back towards returning to play just weeks later.
When I asked Mahomes' close friend and Chiefs receiver Gehrig Dieter at the time about Mahomes' capacity to heal, Dieter laughed and said, "He's a special type of human."
So even as different as the circumstances were when it comes to potential head injuries and Mahomes' immersion in NFL concussion protocols since his breathtaking stagger trying to get up after a tackle on Sunday against Cleveland, Mahomes' DNA and lifelong ledger of true grit strongly suggested that if anyone might emerge through the process to return a week later it would be him.
Somehow, someway — kind of like it's been for the Chiefs as they've won 24 of their last 25 games (many either with double-digit rallies or by narrow margins) that Mahomes has started entering their AFC Championship Game meeting with Buffalo on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
So with Mahomes checking off all the protocols during the week, with one informed observer telling me what happened was more an MMA-style chokehold than concussion (with his wobbling rise nonetheless automatically engaging the "no-go" part of the NFL protocol) and others reporting similar news from within, it was scant surprise when he announced Friday that he'd been cleared to play.
Citing clearance by team physicians and an independent neurological consultant shortly after Friday's practice, Mahomes broke the news directly himself on a Zoom call with reporters.
"The week has been a bunch of testing, a bunch of different things to make sure I'm good to go and there's no lingering effects or anything like that. But everything's been good," he said. "I've went through what three or four different doctors have said. Everything's looked well, and I'm out of (the protocol) now."