By Rohith Nair
(Reuters) – Super Bowl LVIII will be a rematch of the February 2020 clash between Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 11 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, where all eyes will be on the battle between quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Brock Purdy.
While Mahomes is already walking the path to the Hall of Fame as he chases a third Super Bowl ring, Purdy has risen from underdog status and quickly made light of his nickname ‘Mr Irrelevant’ in less than two years.
WHO IS KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QUARTERBACK PATRICK MAHOMES?
As Kansas City seek to become only the ninth franchise to repeat as Super Bowl champions, Mahomes will be in the spotlight as he looks to be crowned Super Bowl MVP a third time.
Mahomes played through the pain of an ankle injury at the Super Bowl last year when his team trailed the Philadelphia Eagles at halftime, eventually throwing for 182 yards and three touchdowns as they stormed back to claim a dramatic 38-35 win.
Such resilience was one of the reasons why he was offered the biggest contract in NFL history when he guided the Chiefs to Super Bowl glory in 2020.
While Mahomes still has a long way to go to be spoken of in the same breath as seven-times Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, winning a third title in four years at the age of 28 will place him in the same conversation.
Although the Chiefs were the third seeds in the AFC post-season behind Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills, they stepped up in the playoffs where Mahomes completed 68% of his passes for 718 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
“At the end of the day, it’s playoff games, you want to win. This is what you play for,” Mahomes had said.
“Regardless of if we were an underdog or not, that fire would have been lit because this is the time of year that you work for.”
WHO IS SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS QUARTERBACK BROCK PURDY?
Before Purdy, no other player in the history of the sport could lay claim to being the last pick in the NFL Draft and guiding the franchise to a Super Bowl in two years.
One would have to flip through several pages to spot Purdy’s name in the 2022 draft as he waited three days before he became the 262nd pick, earning the nickname ‘Mr Irrelevant’ that is given to the player drafted with the very last overall pick.
But injuries to the first and second-string quarterbacks gave Purdy the chance to shine and he gleefully accepted the opportunity with both hands.
He was the only rookie quarterback to beat a team led by Brady in a starting debut and he finished the season as a finalist for Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2022, retaining his place as the starting quarterback in 2023.
Purdy has not looked back ever since and in only his second year he broke the 49ers record for passing yards in the regular season (4,280).
The 24-year-old wears the number 13 in honour of former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino since his father was a big fan of the Hall of Famer and clearly the number has been far from unlucky for Purdy.
He threw for 519 yards in the post-season for two touchdowns and is among the five finalists for MVP in his first full season as a starter.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Doha; Editing by Christian Radnedge)
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