👋 Good morning! With Patrick Mahomes advancing to the Super Bowl, the Detroit Tigers have now drafted more Super Bowl starting QBs than the Detroit Lions.
Today's word count: 1,702 words (6 minutes).
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Some early narratives...
1. "The Gunslinger"
Mahomes is 24 years old, arguably the best player in football and he just toppled Tom Brady as the top seller of NFL merchandise. A star has already been born — now he has the biggest stage in sports to showcase his brilliance.
2. "The Super Bowl of Speed"
Kansas City and San Francisco got here using different blueprints (old coach who likes to pass vs. young coach who likes to run), but they share something far more fundamental: "They're both fast. Really, really fast," write WSJ's Andrew Beaton and Jim Chairusmi.
3. Starving vs. spoiled
This is the Chiefs' first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years and third overall. The 49ers, meanwhile, will be playing in their seventh and are one win away from tying the Steelers and Patriots for most Super Bowl wins ever.
4. Unheralded running backs
Tonight, the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) will announce the results of its 2020 Hall of Fame balloting at 6pm ET live on MLB Network.
Men: When the above photo was taken in the early 2010s, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were the three best players on the ATP Tour. A decade later, they're still on top — but the next generation is closing in.
Women: Serena Williams remains one win shy of equaling Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 major singles titles.
More to watch:
Baylor leapfrogged Gonzaga to become this season's seventh No. 1 team, tying the record for most No. 1s in a single season — and it's only January.
The big picture: With so much turnover at the top of the rankings each week, it's starting to feel like this is the "year of the upset." But that's only partially true.
The bottom line: This isn't the "year of the upset," it's "the year without dominant teams." I'd imagine that hasn't been great for TV ratings since the sport thrives on powerhouses (i.e. Duke last season), but it could make March extra "Mad."
📺 Tonight: No. 13 Butler at No. 9 Villanova, 7pm ET (CBSSN)
South Carolina and Baylor still sit atop the women's AP poll, with UConn moving into third after previous No. 3 Stanford lost to Oregon by 32 points. The Ducks subsequently moved up to No. 4, with Louisville sitting tight at No. 5.
📺 Game of the week: UConn and Tennessee will play each other for the first time since 2007, with the Huskies hosting the Volunteers in Hartford on Thursday night (7pm ET, ESPN).
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND — Mohamed Salah and Liverpool beat Manchester United, 2-0, to improve to 21-1-0 through 22 matches, the best start in the history of Europe's "Big 5" leagues. Second-place Manchester City is 16 points behind them.
SAUDI ARABIA — The 42nd edition of the Dakar Rally took competitors from the shores of the Red Sea, around the canyons of the western part of the country, over the endless dunes of the Empty Quarter and all the way to the capital city of Riyadh.
LEYSIN, SWITZERLAND — Here's a mesmerizing photo of American Ty Schnorrbusch competing in the Women's Snowboard Slopestyle at the Winter Youth Olympics.
Terry Bradshaw talks with the media after the game. Photo: Ross Lewis/Getty Images
41 years ago today, the Steelers beat the Cowboys, 35-31, in Super Bowl XIII, becoming the first NFL franchise to win three Super Bowls.
Steelers titles (click for highlights):
Photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images
Damian Lillard erupted for a franchise-record 61 points in the Trail Blazers' 129-124 overtime win over the Warriors last night, becoming just the sixth player in NBA history with multiple 60-point games.
Answer at the bottom.
🇮🇪 McGregor is back: Conor McGregor only needed 40 seconds to knock out Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Here's the full fight.
🇨🇦 Best thing I saw: Absolutely love this Twitter thread about a Canadian community coming together through hockey to make a young Syrian refugee feel welcome in his new home.
🏀 1-29: Kemba Walker got his first career win against LeBron James last night, as the Celtics handed the Lakers their worst loss of the season. Walker was 0-28 against James coming into the game.
🏒 This is fun: ESPN's Greg Wyshynski explores how the NHL standings would change if the league used a different points system.
📚 Good read: To understand America, look to its college sports (Gerard Baker, WSJ)
Kendall "We almost had the State Farm Bowl (Mahomes vs. Rodgers)" Baker
Trivia answer: Wilt Chamberlain (32), Kobe Bryant (6), James Harden (4), Michael Jordan (4), Elgin Baylor (3)