When the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Mecole Hardman in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft, he was expected to be a Tyreek Hill body-double and eventual replacement. Instead, Kansas City let him walk this past offseason and Hardman signed a four-million dollar contract with the New York Jets.
Then in October, the Chiefs, in dire need of wide receivers, traded with New York to get Hardman back. He had made just one catch as a Jet. Last night in Super Bowl 58, Hardman caught three passes for 57 yards, but none bigger than the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
It was an unforgettable storybook ending to his which he described postgame as a “roller coaster,” but at least in the immediate aftermath, Hardman didn’t remember the final play that secured his team’s 25-22 victory over the San Francisco 49ers and back-to-back Super Bowl rings for the former Georgia Bulldog.
“Can I tell a quick funny story?” Patrick Mahomes asked the NFL Network panel during a postgame interview with Hardman and his quarterback. “I threw a touchdown to this dude to end the game and he had no idea. He didn’t even celebrate at the beginning.”
Hardman admitted that he just “blacked out,” then further explained, “When I saw the cornerback up, I knew I was going to get the ball. I just caught the ball and I blacked out I’m not going to lie. I saw Pat running toward me and I was like ‘Oh, we just won.’ After that the rest is history.”
He had a similar account of the story in his interview with the NFL on CBS panel down on the field.
“Roller coaster” isn’t just a good way to describe Hardman’s season personally, but the 2023-24 season for the Kansas City Chiefs who were underdogs three straight times in the playoffs and overcame a 10-point deficit against San Francisco.
“We’ve been through the battles man,” Hardman told KSHB 41, a local Kansas City TV network. “We hit adversity and we hit it head on, we defeated it and now we’re here Super Bowl champs.”
A bit of that adversity last night came right after Hardman caught a 52-yard bomb from Mahomes to set up the Chiefs at the San Francisco nine-yard line. Kansas City running back Isiah Pacheco fumbled on the very next play.
Hardman will once again be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but his brief time in New York may lead both he and Kansas City’s front office to reconsider letting him walk.