It was one year ago Monday that Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes sneaked through the back entrance of a Missouri Western State dormitory, evading a line of TV cameras awaiting his arrival.
Albeit briefly, he enjoyed a moment of inconspicuousness.
Twelve months later, those moments are long gone. Hard to believe they ever existed, really. He's featured on national commercials and plastered on the cover of the Madden 20 video game. He's a guest on late-night talk shows and occupies the front row at the ESPYs. And, oh, yeah, there was that NFL MVP award.
Mahomes' stardom casts a wider shadow than any other player to wear a Chiefs uniform. In a year's time, in other words, life had changed considerably as he walked back onto the Missouri Western campus Tuesday for the start of Chiefs training camp.
Well, publicly it had.
"Everybody is asking that same question — is he changed?" Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "I think when you're around him, you can see this is who he is.
"He grew up around this. He grew up around star players. He's not awed by them. He wants to be a great player in the National Football League. He understands the different things he's gotta take care of."
There are some differences. After an offseason spent trying to lose some of his baby fat, as he put it, Mahomes' body-fat percentage tested at a lower level Tuesday than it did at last year's camp. Close to a career best, actually.
But otherwise? The alterations within Mahomes' way of life came in the offseason. Throughout the rounds of endorsements and promotions. While traveling the country, and internationally, with teammates, family and friends. While attending Final Fours and Stanley Cup playoff games. During those late-night talk show appearances.
"I had more obligations, of course, but I got to enjoy it. I think that was the biggest thing," Mahomes said. "I got to do a lot of things that I dreamed about doing, aligning myself with a lot of great partners and traveling to be with a lot of teammates and friends and be a part of that. But now I'm glad to be in (St. Joseph, Missouri) playing football and focusing on football all the time, all day long."
A day before arriving at camp, Mahomes posted an Instagram video that recapped the past 12 months — a whirlwind that began with little more than optimism at this point last season. The Chiefs were hopeful. But until Mahomes lit up the Los Angeles Chargers in their 2018 season opener, he was a relative unknown. Maybe even a risk.
The past several months have entailed more fine-tuning than overhauling. Reid presented Mahomes with new plays during the offseason. Together, they reviewed film from last year, stacking together similar plays and analyzing the reasons for success and spots where he could have been better.
"The neat thing about Patrick is he loves new challenges," Reid said.
The non-football obligations were littered between film sessions, between workouts, between throwing the football to receivers on back fields. This is where the adjustment was required. That situation presented a new element in Mahomes' life.
But his background — growing up with a father who played professional baseball and a godfather who did the same — offered perspective.
"I think just using the people around me — having LaTroy Hawkins and my dad, who have been professional athletes (helped)," Mahomes said. "(They) had to do other things outside their sport and still make sure the sport was the first thing. Using them for advice as role models for me, I can go out there and do these things outside of football but at the same time keeping football as the main motivation."