While Tom Brady, who at 45 is old enough to be the father of the four quarterbacks in the NFL championship games Sunday, deliberates his future, young guns have taken over pro football.
Brady will continue to be the G.O.A.T., but the showdowns that will determine the Super Bowl opponents are centered around four quarterbacks, three of whom played in the Big 12.
The old man in the bunch is Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes, who at the ripe old age of 27 is trying to reach his third Super Bowl where he is 1-1. When the Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in 2012, Mahomes was the MVP, the youngest quarterback to ever win that honor.
They take on Cincinnati at 5:30 p.m. Sunday on CBS. The Chiefs opened as a small favorite, but the betting line is teetering to the Bengals because of Mahomes' ankle sprain.
Mahomes went through a full practice Wednesday, and the report is he's about 90%, which still makes him one of the league's elite quarterbacks. Mahomes played college football for Texas Tech in the Big 12. He also played baseball for two years.
Joe Burrow, 26, spent his first three collegiate seasons at Ohio State in the Big Ten before transferring to the SEC and LSU, where he won the national championship and the Heisman Trophy.
Burrow was born in Ames, Iowa, when his dad, a 40-year coaching veteran, was an assistant at Iowa State. This is his third season in the NFL. He led the Bengals to last year's Super Bowl, where he passed for 263 yards and a touchdown but was sacked seven times and lost to the Los Angeles Rams 23-20.
Mahomes and Burrow faced each other last year in the AFC Championship Game, and Burrow passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns as the Bengals overcame a 21-3 deficit to win 27-24 in overtime.
In that game, Mahomes threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns, but he had three interceptions including one in overtime.
Jalen Hurts, 24, was runner-up to Burrow for the Heisman in 2019. He began his career in the SEC at Alabama and was part of the 2018 national championship team. He started that game against Georgia but was benched to start the second half, and Tua Tagovailoa led the Tide to the 26-23 win,
Tagovailoa was the starter the next season, and afterward Hurts transferred to Oklahoma in the Big 12, where he started all 14 games, and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round. He became the starter his second season and has become a much better passer to go with his running ability.
The Eagles host San Francisco at 2 p.m. on Fox.
The 49ers quarterback, Brock Purdy, 23, is the most talked-about quarterback of the postseason because he was the final player taken in last year's draft, earning him the title of Mr. Irrelevant.
Purdy played for Iowa State in the Big 12, where he started 46 of 48 games including all 38 his last three seasons. He passed for 12,170 yards and 81 touchdowns and ran for 19 more.
What probably hurt his draft status were 33 interceptions in college. The Cyclones were 31-20 during his four seasons and 7-6 his final season when they were preseason No. 7 in the polls. He was the 262nd pick of the 2022 NFL Draft by the 49ers but showed signs of his skills during camp, and he was kept on as a third quarterback.
The storybook tale began on Dec. 4 when injuries forced him into a game, and he became the first Mr. Irrelevant to throw a touchdown pass in a game. He is 7-0 as the starter.
The combined years these quarterbacks have been alive is 100 years, or an average of 25 for the starters of the AFC and NFL championship games.