Four months after going head-to-head during a classic matchup in the NFL playoffs, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are set to compete ... as teammates.
Their opponents? Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
They will square off in “The Match” at 6:30 p.m. ET Wednesday at Wynn Golf Club in Nevada, forming what could be the most star-studded quarterback foursome in golf history.
“After seeing Mahomes and Allen battle it out in that epic game, I called the network right away and said we have to do something with these guys,” said Bryan Zuriff, co-creator of “The Match.” “Let’s team the young guys up against the older guys and make it sort of the old guard versus the new guard in the NFL.”
On the golf course instead of the gridiron, wearing collared shirts instead of pads and targeting greens instead of wide receivers.
It will be the sixth iteration of the event, which will air on TNT, and the first without a professional golfer competing.
“The thinking behind that was just to mix things up,” said Zuriff, a television producer whose inspiration for “The Match” came from being a childhood fan of the Skins Game, a PGA Tour tournament involving just four golfers. “Not saying we might not go back to professional golfers, because we certainly can. We just want to take chances.”
“The Match” has evolved since debuting in 2018 with “Tiger vs. Phil” where Phil Mickelson defeated Tiger Woods after 22 holes, including four playoffs, to win a $9 million purse. Following that event, Zuriff aimed for a “Monday Night Golf” format involving two NFL stars on the Monday following the Memorial Tournament. While at the driving range at Riviera Country Club, he approached Brady with the idea. An avid golfer, Brady was intrigued. He also offered a suggestion: Peyton Manning.
“We had Tom and Peyton under contract with Tiger and Phil and then COVID struck,” Zuriff said. “I went to the network and said this is a producible event that we can do without fans. We need to be the first sporting event up.”
Called “The Match: Champions for Charity,” the event was played in May 2020 amid a global pandemic. It raised over $20 million for COVID relief amid a global pandemic, as Woods and Manning defeated Mickelson and Brady in a four-ball format.
“That sort of launched this new franchise in that direction,” Zuriff said.
That led to “The Match: Champions for Change” in November 2020, where Mickelson and Charles Barkley defeated Manning and Steph Curry while raising millions for historically black colleges and universities.
Rodgers debuted during “The Match IV” in July 2021, teaming with professional golfer Bryson DeChambeau to defeat Mickelson and Brady. DeChambeau returned later that year and lost in a 12-hole head-to-head matchup with fellow golfer Brooks Koepka in “Bryson vs. Brooks.”
Future iterations potentially could involve … Spider Man?
“We could do sort of a Marvel versus DC thing,” Zuriff said. “Take two superheroes. Tom Holland, Chris Pratt are super into golf. We talked to those guys, as well, and they certainly want to do it."
“We sort of became a ‘Dancing With the Stars’ meets golf kind of product,” Zuriff added. “It’s about paying attention to the marketplace and figuring out what works in the moment that gives you the best matchups.”
At this moment, Mahomes teaming with Allen makes for a marquee matchup. Their partnership comes four months after the two squared off in a classic battle during the NFL Divisional playoffs. The two combined for three go-ahead touchdowns in the final two minutes of regulation as Mahomes’ Chiefs defeated Allen’s Bills, 42-36, in overtime to advance to the AFC Championship.
Mahomes was initially approached about competing in “The Match” in 2021 against Brady after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.
“We wanted to recreate the Super Bowl when Tom and Patrick,” Zuriff said. “Patrick hurt his toe, but he loved golf and told me he couldn’t do it that year, but he’d want to come back in the future.”
Mahomes now gets his rematch with Brady. Allen will have to wait for his with Mahomes.
The trash talk has been ongoing between the two veterans and the two next-generation quarterbacks. Or as Allen put it, the “two old bulls” and “two young calves.”
“We’ve never seen four people compete on this level in a sport that isn’t their natural sport,” Zuriff said. “They don’t want to lose in anything, whether it be ping pong, golf or anything. These are the most competitive athletes, and they take their golf very seriously.”