This story appears in ESPN The Magazine’s November issue. Subscribe today!

I went to the bottom of the internet trying to understand what it’s like to have an arm like Patrick Mahomes‘. I found a throw so rare that it technically doesn’t exist, erased on account of a holding penalty. November 2014. Mahomes is a 19-year-old true freshman at Texas Tech, facing Oklahoma, in only his second start. It’s third-and-10 at the Sooners’ 39-yard line. He’s been coached to look at a pair of receivers in sequence and, if they’re both covered, make a play. One, two, go. He takes the snap and is under immediate pressure — “one, go” — and he scampers left, not fast but elusive, away from the rush but into a trap. He’s within a yard of the sideline and all four Sooners defensive linemen are closing fast … until, with his weight moving left and a rusher’s helmet at his chin, Mahomes snaps his arm — in that instant, it’s his only body part in motion, as if isolated for maximum effect — and the ball assumes a trajectory that seems impossible without more of a windup, the physical expression of a metaphysical quality,

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