Tyreek Hill-Patrick Mahomes: An NFL rivalry no one saw coming

Tue, Jun 21, 2022
NFL News (AP)

Tyreek Hill-Patrick Mahomes: An NFL rivalry no one saw coming
By Martin Rogers
AP Sports Columnist

The oddest new rivalry in the NFL is here, and it's difficult to define whether it's really a rivalry at all, or merely a beef, troll job, or a way to drive up podcast ratings.

Tyreek Hill's verbal jabs at the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes - respectively his old team and his former quarterback - were highly unexpected and are really quite quirky.'

Yep, it's kind of great.

This is the feud we never saw coming, which makes it the perfect time-ticking fodder for this largely empty pocket of the year, when football happened long enough ago that the details of even the most recent campaign are a little hazy, and the new season is far enough away to not truly feel real yet.

Hill is going for it, filling the usually slow summer news cycle with a growing list of digs at the place where he made his name and the QB who launched all those passes in his direction.

His barbs are wide and varied, but they've all been pointed and without scope for confusion. On his new "It Needed To Be Said" pod, Hill criticized the way he was used in Kansas City and insisted the Chiefs will struggle without him following his trade to the Miami Dolphins.

Furthermore, in a comment most NFL observers have scoffed at, he claimed Dolphins third-year QB Tua Tagovailoa is a more accurate passer than Mahomes - the same Mahomes with a Super Bowl ring and four straight AFC Championship appearances.

"Obviously, I'm going to go with 15 as the strongest arm," Hill said. "But as far as accuracy-wise, I'm going with Tua all day."

The NFL offseason has seen movement like no other. Deshaun Watson moved from the Houston Texans to the Cleveland Browns and Tyreek Hill moved from Super Bowl winning QB Patrick Mahomes to Tua and the Miami Dolphins.

Football is not a polite game and wouldn't be nearly as popular if it was. Competitive banter is all part of the deal. Show me a fan who says they don't enjoy that side of it on some level and I might show you someone being economical with the truth.

But the Hill & Friends Show (now former friends, presumably) doesn't fit the typical mold of such things. From the outside, there wasn't any lingering hostility.

Mahomes and Hill were a dynamic combination who gave every appearance of fully appreciating the other's excellence. Hill racked up 4,854 yards over the past four seasons, with 43 touchdowns. There were times when his darting footwork made him darn near impossible to tackle effectively.

He was part of that unforgettable 13-second comeback against the Buffalo Bills and seemed to be an integral piece of the Chiefs fabric. And when it comes to Mahomes you don't usually identify the respectful young face of the NFL as an obvious target for someone's dissing ire.

Even Mahomes seems a little perplexed by it.

"I talked to him at Formula One in Miami in May and everything seemed fine," Mahomes told reporters. "I'm sure that he's trying to show he loves where he's at in Miami and he loves his teammates. The thing I loved about Tyreek - and I still love - is he wants to win."

Part of Hill's frustration was about his usage, which he felt should have been greater. However, the Chiefs' view is that head coach Andy Reid, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Mahomes simply had to look at other options, such as the level of cover Hill was attracting.

The resulting transaction was a blockbuster trade backed with a package of draft picks, and a four-year whopper of a contract that will pay the wide receiver a position-leading $120 million over four years.

So where does this thing go next? It looked like nowhere for a short while. There isn't much outlet for an ongoing squabble it seemed, with the Dolphins and Chiefs not due to meet in the regular season until 2023 and the only possibility of a face-off coming in the AFC playoff bracket, which the Dolphins haven't been part of for six years.

But then Hill got into it with former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark, who accused him of, er, being economical with the truth regarding his Mahomes comments, and here we are now, with something that's now taken enough of our time that it will be watched and monitored in the months to come.

Hill is irked and that reality doesn't figure to find a resolution any time soon. Expect more chit-chat from him. Sooner or later, the Chiefs might get sick of it and bite back with something a little spicy. Goodness, let's hope so. The summer heat is just another reminder that gridiron Sundays are still months away.

The Hill-Mahomes/Chiefs soap opera is the silly rivalry we need. Peculiar enough to have us scratching our heads, intriguing enough to be more than fleeting. And contrary enough to help us remember that the NFL is built on fire and ego, which only adds to it all.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for AP Sports and the author of the AP Sports Insider newsletter. You can subscribe to the daily newsletter here.

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