(CBS Local)- The matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV is one that has plenty of fans excited. In particular, the game has a feel of old guard versus new with Tom Brady looking to win his seventh title in 10 tries while Patrick Mahomes looks to supplant him as the youngest two-time Super Bowl winner as he continues to build his resume.
Around the Super Bowl, there is always talk of legacy and what a win would mean for each coach, team, or player. But, this matchup, for NFL on CBS analyst Tony Romo, feels of even bigger importance. It’s a clash of two of the best we’ve seen at the position from two completely different eras meeting in the final arena. It’s one that has the feel of a barbershop debate over who would win in their prime.
“This could be one of the great matchups in sports history because it doesn’t happen very often. This matchup right here is what you talk about with your friends,” said Romo on CBS’ Super Bowl media call. “It’s, could you imagine if Michael Jordan got his team to the Finals in ’98, or when he was older, against a young LeBron James? It would be the greatest thing in the history of sports. And I think we might actually have that Super Bowl.”
The James-Jordan comparison may actually have been more apt for a debate that now seems settled, Brady vs. Montana. Jordan and Montana both maintained perfect records in championship rounds with Jordan winning six titles in six Finals appearances and Montana winning four Super Bowls in four appearances.
James, like Brady, has made 10 appearances in the Finals. His record, 4-6, is less impressive than Brady’s current 6-3, but the sheer volume and longevity of dominance in reaching the final stage is hard to ignore.
Drawing on NBA comparisons and Boston connections, late stage Brady has the feel of a Bill Russell, who set a seemingly impossible standard of 11 Finals wins in 12 appearances. Mahomes, if he goes 2-for-2 by winning this year’s Super Bowl, could be looked at as a young Michael Jordan, looking to cement himself as the best ever with a perfect record.
Regardless of the comparison, the fact that Mahomes is even here this early in his career is something that has Romo almost at a loss for ways to describe how good he is.
“Mahomes checks so many boxes, it’s really hard to describe to people how special this guy is,” said Romo. “I can’t think of somebody that you would go through because everybody has a weakness and you’re trying to find everyone’s weakness as an analyst or every scheme’s weakness and figure it out. I really feel like he is just the rare guy.”
Rare is a word that can be used to describe both quarterbacks though in different ways. Mahomes’ physical gifts and abilities to do things you just shouldn’t be able to on a football field constantly has jaws dropping. Brady, though not as physically gifted as Mahomes, has made a Super Bowl appearance in nearly half of his years in the league and conference championship games in more than half.
The rarity of a quarterback duel of this caliber is one that has Romo believing we’ll be talking about this game for years to come.
“As a football fan this is as good as it gets. I can tell you right now, in 30-40 years from now, I have a funny feeling this might be the greatest matchup from a story perspective,” said Romo.
His partner for the call, Jim Nantz, agrees.
“It’s just a dream. You almost couldn’t write a better script for us going into a game,” said Nantz.
The pair’s first Super Bowl together two years ago in Atlanta did not live up to its hype. Billed as the league’s best young offensive mind, Sean McVay, against the Patriots dynasty of Belichick and Brady, the game devolved into a punt-filled defensive slugfest with the lowest point total in Super Bowl history.
Nantz doesn’t see that happening this time around.
“I look at this matchup, that’s impossible,” said Nantz. “That won’t happen here. It can’t happen here. It will not happen here. This game is, hold your breath, there’s going to be a big highlight coming at you every couple of minutes.”
Nantz pointed to the regular season matchup between the two as evidence. In that game, which the Chiefs won 27-24, Kansas City jumped out to a 17-0 lead after a first quarter in which Mahomes connected with receiver Tyreek Hill to the tune of 207 yards and two touchdowns. Then in the fourth quarter, Brady and the Bucs made a late push, scoring 14 points to cut it to 27-24 with 4:10 left. They never saw the ball again.
It does seem likely that we’ll have a reprisal of that performance this time in Round 2. The over/under is set at 56.5, five and a half points higher than that regular season battle. In a high-scoring affair like that, the quarterbacks likely to play a big role. Who “wins” that duel will, to Romo’s mind, determine whether Mahomes can set up another base camp on the mountain that is trying to reach Brady’s career peak.
“When it’s all said and done, this game, there’s a chance for Patrick Mahomes if you’re playing this game, this could be the thing that if you get close to climbing that ladder. This game could push you over the top when it’s all said and done. To say you beat him in the Super Bowl head-to-head. Brady shuts the door if he wins this game,” said Romo.