If you are an NFL fan, I am sure you are aware that the Kansas City Chiefs became the first team in almost two decades to repeat as Super Bowl Champions last night in Las Vegas with a victory over the San Francisco 49ers in an overtime thriller.
You also probably know that the game was won in overtime on a short touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes to Mecole Hardman.
Mecole Hardman: Super Bowl Legend— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) February 12, 2024
As you likely remember, Hardman began this season as a member of the Jets after signing in the offseason. He had a single reception for six yards in the fourth quarter of the team’s Week 2 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Hardman was unable to find a role, and the Jets eventually traded him along with a seventh round pick in next year’s Draft to the Chiefs, his original NFL team, for a sixth round pick in next year’s Draft.
The touchdown has led to quite a few reactions.
Travis Kelce said those in the Chiefs locker room were ecstatic when Mecole Hardman rejoined the team. Tonight, he scored a Super Bowl-winning TD.— Brandon Zenner (@KWCHBrandon) February 12, 2024
"It brought me to tears that he was the man who got us this ring, man. ... Everyone counted him out. The Jets counted him out." pic.twitter.com/pa7DikiWZh
The Jets paid Mecole Hardman and he won the Super Bowl.— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) February 12, 2024
It’s easy after the fact to pick the low hanging fruit and say the Jets have egg on their face for trading Hardman.
Here are some realities. Hardman wasn’t productive even after the Jets traded him back to Kansas City. He had 14 catches for 118 yards in 12 games. He entered the Super Bowl with 2 catches for 5 yards in the Chiefs’ first three postseason games. His most notable contribution was a key fumble on the goal line in the second half in the Divisional Round against the Bills at a point where the Chiefs were on the verge of taking complete control of the game.
The touchdown was also largely the result of scheme. The play design left Hardman wide open for a walk in touchdown. Almost any skill player in the NFL likely would have scored on that play.
Hardman is clearly an accidental Super Bowl hero akin to David Tyree than a budding talent the Jets cast aside.
The question today shouldn’t be why the Jets traded Hardman away. Rather it should be why the Jets kept an offensive coordinator who almost never schemes guys open the way we saw on that play.