LAS VEGAS — If you see Pat Riley wearing a bright red Mahomes No. 15 jersey, do not be surprised.
It’s business, nothing personal.
The ever-shrewd Riley back in 1988 applied for and received trademark registrations for the term “Three-peat.’’
His Lakers were riding back-to-back NBA titles and the dapper coach was looking to add some cha-ching to his quest for another championship.
Alas, the Lakers fell short to the Pistons in the 1989 NBA Finals.
Riley, though, did cash in when the Bulls (twice!), Yankees and, most recently, the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal Lakers in 2002 completed three-peats, capturing back-to-back-to-back titles in their respective leagues.
After Mahomes tossed a game-winning touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman in overtime for a 25-22 victory in Super Bowl 2024, the Chiefs are now on the clock as a three-peat contender.
No NFL team has ever won three consecutive Super Bowls.
Eight times, teams were where the Chiefs are, sitting on consecutive Super Bowl triumphs and thinking about a third.
Eight times, it did not work out.
In 2005, the Patriots scored only 13 points and lost to the Broncos in the AFC divisional round.
In 1999, John Elway retired and that was it for the Broncos.
In 1994, Jimmy Johnson left the Cowboys and they were eliminated by the 49ers in the NFC title game.
In 1990, the 49ers’ hopes of three straight ended on Roger Craig’s fumble in an NFC Championship game loss to the Giants.
In 1980, the Steelers’ vaunted defense finally got too old and an era was over.
In 1976, the Steelers went down to the Raiders in the AFC title game, losing running back Franco Harris in that postseason.
In 1974, the Dolphins lost to Kenny Stabler and the Raiders in the AFC divisional round.
In 1968, Vince Lombardi was gone and the Packers’ dynasty was over and done with.
Next up to try: The 2024 Chiefs.
“I don’t think a lot about that, but I think that would be a pretty neat thing to do,’’ head coach Andy Reid said Monday morning. “You don’t really go there when you’re in this thing. You go back to your dark room and the film and the draft coming up and the combine, all those things, that’s kinda where you go.
“You’re not talking three-peat — maybe some guys do. It’d be great.’’
What we covered during Super Bowl 2024
It would be more than great.
“It’s legendary,’’ Mahomes said. “No one’s ever done it and we know it’s legendary to win back-to-back — I think eight other teams had done it. We had heard it all week. We talked to the guys about it and we felt we had the best opportunity we had ever had to go out there and do that. I fell short the year before.
“All you can do is come back the next year with a fresh mindset, knowing it’s gonna be even harder.’’
This was the year to get the Chiefs.
Their vulnerabilities were showing.
Their offensive linemen led the league in penalties.
Down the stretch, they lost four of six games to fall to 9-6 and looked more like a team that might get squeezed out of the playoffs than a team capable of getting in and making an extended run.
Once they did get in, the Chiefs were underdogs on the road in Buffalo in the divisional round.
They were underdogs on the road in Baltimore in the AFC Championship game.
They were slight underdogs in the Super Bowl and had to overcome a 10-point deficit.
The Chiefs, more accustomed to home cooking, had to be road warriors to survive a grueling gauntlet.
This was the season to get the Chiefs.
They had to navigate their roster construction despite Mahomes counting an NFL-high $37 million against the salary cap.
That actually goes up to $58.6 million in 2024, but Mahomes sounds willing to redo his deal to give the Cheifs more flexibility.
The Chiefs did not earn a first-round playoff bye and so there was no rest for the weary.
They teetered but they were never knocked down.
“Listen, it’s history, how you write it is how you write it and whether it’s a dynasty. We don’t determine if it’s a dynasty, you guys do,’’ Reid, who at 65 years old confirmed he will return next season, said. “I would tell you it’s as fine a group as I’ve been around. If somebody said ‘Dynasty’ and tagged it onto it, I’d be very proud of that.’’
The Chiefs need to find a way to re-sign defensive lineman Chris Jones and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, both impending free agents, and Mahomes said, “I’ll try to keep as much flexibility as I can as far as the cap and stuff like that.’’
As long as Mahomes is on the field, the Chiefs will have a shot at the NFL immortality that a three-peat would confirm.
“To be able to have our stamp on this great NFL history,’’ Mahomes said, “is something I’ll never take for granted.’’