Bowl Bound

Mitchell Schwartz Suits Up for the Chiefs on Super Bowl Sunday While His Older Brother Geoff Is There to Cover It

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

Reaching the pinnacle of his sport has been a study in perseverance for Mitchell Schwartz and no one is more proud of him than his older brother Geoff, who knows all about the grind of an offensive lineman in the National Football League, having played eight years at guard and tackle for four different teams before retiring in 2017.

Mitchell is the starting right tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs who take on the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. He was  greeted Monday on media day by his older sibling, who asked about Coach Andy Reid’s “Burrito Analogy”—a topic that got the reserved Mitchell to laugh.

“I know from experience having your brother being ahead of you and doing it, you have a better feel for what to expect and what not to expect,” Mitchell said. “You’re a little more comfortable having someone you can ask questions to.”

Mitchell is an NFL iron man, having started all 128 games of his career. He had never missed a play until a knee injury forced him out of the Chiefs’ loss to Tennessee this season, ending his streak at 7,894 straight snaps—then the longest among active players. He signed with Kansas City in 2016 after four seasons with the Cleveland Browns.    

“While my dream of playing in a Super Bowl never happened during my playing career, I get to watch my younger brother get his first start in the big game on Sunday,” said Geoff, now a writer for SB Nation who releases two podcasts a week for The Athletic entitled “Geoff Schwartz is Smarter than You” and does Sirius satellite radio out of his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. “And wow, what a fulfilling experience it’s going to be. As you’d suspect, I’m his biggest fan. I’ve always admired Mitch’s ability to diagnosis what’s being presented to him. His recognition of the pass rush he’s about to engage with and his way of countering that. Playing smarter, not harder. That was never my style. I just couldn’t do it. I wanted to maul people and wasn’t able to play as technically sound. It probably shortened my career, but who knows? I have no regrets.”

The Chiefs advanced to their first Super Bowl in 50 years with a 35-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship game Jan. 19 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City and watching the game on the edge of their seats from their home near the Santa Monica airport were the brothers’ parents Lee and Olivia.

“I was sitting with Livie on the couch and when the Chiefs jumped ahead by 17 I looked at her, clenched my fist and said ‘We’re going to the Super Bowl’   but then of course the game got interesting,” Lee said. “When it was finally over we just looked at each other in amazement. I was at the [AFC Championship] game last year with Geoffrey when the Chiefs came so close but lost to the Patriots. You talk about painful!”     

The Chiefs (14-4) opened the week as slight favorites to beat the 49ers (15-3) in a matchup pitting Kansas City’s explosive offense, led by dual-threat quarterback Patrick Mahomes, against San Francisco’s relentless defense. Lee said Mitchell and Mahomes are very close and have a “good connection” on the field. Mitchell is also familiar with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who was one of the position coaches during Schwartz’ stint in Cleveland.    

Both brothers were too big to play Pop Warner and were too invested in bar mitzvah lessons but started playing as freshmen at Palisades High. Geoff, three years older, played football, basketball and baseball for the Dolphins and earned the PalisadianPost Cup Award as the school’s outstanding senior athlete in 2004. Mitchell followed suit on the gridiron and earned City Offensive Lineman of the Year honors as a senior, graduating in 2007. Both went on to have successful college careers at Pac-12 schools—Geoff at Oregon and Mitchell at Cal.

“When Mitchell got to Pali he wasn’t sure he wanted to play football,” Lee recalled. “He had a stong arm and to his credit JV coach Ted Baker let Mitchell throw at the end of a game and he completed a pass for 30 yards, but he realized right away he’d never be a quarterback. It definitely helped having an older brother showing him the lay of the land so to speak and sharing his experiences.”

Geoff and Mitchell played at Palisades during a down period in the Dolphins’ program.Ron Price resigned after Geoff’s ninth-grade year and he played  one season under Carter Austin and two under Jason Blatt while Mitchell played three seasons under Leo Castro in which the Dolphins went a combined 9-22. Their parents wanted the boys to go to public school and trusted that if their sons had the innate talent, they would succeed at the next level. Did they ever!    

Lee and Olivia will fly out for the game and sit with Geoff, who will join them when his media duties are over.

So which team will hoist the Lombardi Trophy this Sunday? Pali High head coach Tim Hyde gave his prediction: “Football is an easy game. Run the ball and stop the run has been a winning formula for as long as the sport has been played. As a longtime defensive line coach it’s very hard to pick against the 49ers’ excellent group up front. I’ll say 49ers 30, Chiefs 24.”

At least two Dolphins alums hope Hyde is wrong.

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