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Wrapping up the end of the ’23-24 NFL season – what’s ahead? – John Cardullo

by John Cardullo, sportswriter

Now that the 2024 Super Bowl is in the rearview mirror, it is time to reflect on what is ahead for the NFL. First up has Patrick Mahomes replaced Tom Brady as the G.O.A.T.? The Greatest Of All Time? For as long as players have been playing in any sport, the best of that generation was considered the best that there is. But since Tom Brady took over at the helm of the Patriots, previous records began to fall and be replaced with his name at the top.

But if you look at what is considered as what it takes to be labeled as the G.O.A.T., Winning Super Bowls, became the metering stick, well Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls, but you never heard of him as being the G.O.A.T. nor has Bob Griese who won two Super Bowls guiding the Miami Dolphins to two Super Bowls wins, one being the only undefeated team ever two have won one. Terry Bradshaw led the Pittsburgh Steelers to 4 Super Bowl wins, but, yet never a mention of him being a G.O.A.T. It really wasn’t until Joe Montana began leading the San Fransico 49ers to Super Bowls championships, the reference to being the G.OA.T. was starting to get mentioned.

Should winning Super Bowls be the only way a player, especially a quarterback, be considered an all-time great? Consider Fran Tarkenton of Minnesota, Dan Marino of Miami, Houston’s Warren Moon, Buffalo’s Jim Kelley who took his team to 4 consecutive Super Bowls, only to lose each one of them and New Orleans who Archie Manning (yes father to both Peyton and Eli) never won the big game, would they be considered less of a player than those who had won?

The bottom line is that every year 32 teams compete for the Super Bowl championship but only one winner wins it. Those “talking heads” start the argument of who is the Greatest of All Time, and always bring it up. This year it has been Mahomes against Brady. A young player who had won his 3rd championship in his 7th season versus a player who won 7 Super Bowl championships in 22 seasons. Mahomes is a great leader and quarterback, he makes the impossible, possible on the field, it is safe to say that he is certainly one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in the game today, if not the best. But only time will tell where in the history of the game he will end up. The bottom line is that the player that is considered the G.O.A.T. is only today’s news and by tomorrow, well, it can be someone else.

It is evident that the Chiefs are now a dynasty and are in line behind those great teams of the past, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots. How long can they maintain being on top remains to be seen, but they are in a great position to stay there a bit longer, but like all those other teams found out, the other NFL teams are gunning to knock them off, so now for the Chiefs it’s “Game On!”

Which brings me to Brock Purdy, the 2nd year quarterback of the San Fransico 49ers. All he has done since breaking into the starting line up was to get his team into the NFC Championship game, before and injury forced him out of the game in 2023 and his team lost. This season he came back strong and brought his team within inches of a Super Bowl Championship. Everyone knows that he was selected the 199th pick of the 2023 draft. Dubbed Mr. Irrelevant in the draft, a name that is given to every player selected last of every draft. All Purdy has done was play steady, put his team in a position to win every game that he starts. His numbers as a starter were solid. But after his Super Bowl performance his critics have pounded on him. Throwing for 355 yards, a touchdown and no turnovers and putting his team in a position to win the Super Bowl in overtime wasn’t enough to quite the critics.

It is safe to say that Brock Purdy will be at the helm of the 49ers for years to come. Purdy has gone from Mr. Irrelevant to Mr. Franchise. Barring any major injuries, he should have a solid NFL career that may even see a Super Bowl win or two. Then he and Mahomes will have a rivalry that haven’t been seen since Brady and Manning.

The 49ers acquired the best running back in the NFL with Christen McCaffery from the Carolina Panthers in the 2022-23 season. McCaffery continues to drive the point home that he is truly the leagues best running back. In the Super Bowl, he was tearing through the Chiefs defense. Running for big chunks of yardage every time he ran with the ball. The Chiefs has no answer for him. But for some reason the 49ers stopped giving the ball to him, and the offense stalled. Also, the 49ers version of the Chiefs Travis Kelce is a Tight end named George Kittle, a play maker capable of making big plays, but for some reason the 49ers didn’t get him the ball. These were two key factors of why the 49ers failed to win the game. On paper, these were two teams that were as evenly matched as any in the NFL, but when the 49ers stopped going to the weapons that gave them success all season long, it only played in to the Chiefs hands.

The failure of the 49ers to know the NFL’s overtime rule is in excusable! Kyle Shanahan grew up in the game watching his father Mike, Head Coach the Denver Broncos to Super Bowl championships. He himself had plenty Super Bowl game experience, not knowing the rules of engagement is a blunder of epic proportions. Winning the coin toss and taking the over time kick off to start over time may have still been the plan, but as word got out at the post-game press conference that the 49ers did not know the details of the over-time rules. This left everyone in the football world dumbfounded and painted Coach Shanahan in a poor light. It is a shame that this maybe the thing to stick to Shanahan throughout his coaching career. He is, however, younger enough to overcome this especially if the 49ers can bring home the Lombardi trophy next season.

John Cardullo, sportswriter
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