Written by: Chris Rubio
There’s this epic status that guys aspire to achieve in a friendship; this is the role of the Wingman. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the Wingman is a male friend or partner who accompanies and supports a man in some activity. We all know what we mean when we are referring to a Wingman.
He’s your ride or die buddy who will join you and run interference when you are out as a single guy trying to connect with a single woman who is “protected” by a group of ladies. The ultimate Wingman has no regard for obstacles between you and your target. This warrior species will talk to anyone, like a great offensive lineman, clearing the path for you to score. The greatest Wingman will do anything for his protagonist to be successful.
Since 2018, with the exception of 2019, the Chiefs have been gifted with a wingman in the form of Chad Henne. Henne was Patrick Mahomes’s backup and performed masterfully as the ultimate Wingman. Just consider the pressure. The backup Quarterback is called upon at any time in a game if the star quarterback goes down with an injury, he has to be ready on a moment’s notice. Have you ever seen the backup come in? He gets what? Five or Ten warm-up throws? He Comes into the game ice-cold.
Imagine the preparation? The backup needs to understand the playbook, the flow of the game, and what the opposing defense is trying to do to disrupt your offense. He must be ready for the game’s speed, all in a moment’s notice. Sure enough, he has the headset on during the game but goes from cold to being needed right then.
During Henne’s career as a Chief, the Chiefs needed him in 2 high-stakes moments. The 1st was in 2021 vs. the Browns during the Chiefs attempted repeat title playoff run. To set the stage. It’s a do-or-die playoff game. Our MVP is out of the game with a high neck injury. In steps, Henne to protect the lead. The Cleveland Browns mount a comeback and trail only by 22-17. It’s 3rd Down and 14. A Chiefs punt in this situation likely could result in a loss and the end of the repeat playoff run. Henne drops back and finds no one open. He escapes out of the pocket and scampers 13 yards, setting up a 4th and 1. On the next play, Henne finds Tyreek Hill open as he sprint rolls out. Hill catches the ball and makes the 1st down. Game, Set, Match to the Chiefs. Hail to Henne as he proves “Henne” thing can happen.
Henne’s second moment occurred in the 2022/2023 playoff run. In this instance, MVPat went down vs. the Jaguars with a high ankle sprain. This moment was the quietest I have ever heard at Arrowhead Stadium. We could all hear Mahomes throw a stinging F-bomb as he left the field to get X-ray’d.
This time, the Chiefs were nursing a 10-7 lead and had the ball on their own 2-yard line. They needed to travel nearly the entire length of the field. The Chiefs need 98 yards to change the momentum of that game. So Pat goes down, and coolly in walks our Wingman, and without hesitation, Andy Reid calls for a pass. A what? A pass? Henne, without hesitation, completes the pass to Travis Kelce. Imagine the confidence Reid shows in Henne? I mean, he’s ice-cold. How many warm-up throws could he have taken?
The entire Jaguars defense is ready to take his head off.
The fate of the Chiefs Playoff run is resting on him at this moment. No pressure at all Chad; just go in there and replace the best player in the league, and don’t mess this up for us, ok? We all know what happened. A few plays later, a long run by Isiah Pacheco, and we are celebrating a Henne to Travis Kelce touchdown pass, giving the Chiefs a comfortable 17-7 lead from which they never looked back. Proving once again “Henne” thing can happen.
So, as we get ready for the 2023 season, Chad Henne has retired. Our new Wingman is Blaine Gabbert. He comes to us having backed-up Tom Brady for the past three years in Tampa Bay. If history has shown us “Henne” thing it’s that our quarterback may go down for a minute. Our QB is a warrior. Patrick Mahomes has shown everyone that he can play and win on even one leg, yet he had moments when we needed the Wingman. We should expect this moment to come this year. We should expect that when the moment comes, we will all hold our collective breath and wonder can we count on Blaine?
So who is this guy? He’s a local kid who went to High School and College in Missouri. We have yet to see a significant Gabbert moment on a big stage. Reportedly, Gabbert’s nickname is “Sunshine” because he resembles the backup QB from the movie Remember the Titans.
When this moment occurs this year, we will wonder, can Sunshine make Henne thing happen for us? Let’s See.