Disappointing Ending to Mostert's Fairy-Tale Run in Super Bowl
The crazy media attention that comes along with the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl means that no one has to say "who is that guy'' anymore when they see Raheem Mostert run.
We all know his story now.
Mostert played his college football at Purdue from 2010 to 2014, but you could hardly call him a star. He's bounced around the NFL ever since, getting cut by six other teams before finally finding a home with the San Francisco 49ers. With blazing speed — he had a better track career at Purdue than a football career — he's carved his niche as a special teams standout who occasionally got to run the ball.
But when injuries forced him into the lineup during these playoffs, the 27-year-old became an overnight sensation in leading the 49ers to the playoffs. He gained 58 yards and scored a touchdown in the 49ers' 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, but in doing so, he became only the sixth person in the Super Bowl era to rush for 300-plus yards in a postseason and score five or more touchdowns.
That's something amazing.
And from a kid from Purdue that no one really has heard of.
Shining in the media spotlight
Since Mostert blew up on the national stage two weeks ago after rushing for 220 yards against the Green Bay Packers and leading the 49ers into the Super Bowl for only the second time in 26 years, he has been commanding national and worldwide attention from the media.
Having NFL success is all that he's dreamed about his entire life, and he's clearly loving this run. But all the media attention has had to make him re-live a childhood that he tried so hard to run away from.
But because he was doing a half-dozen interviews a day and hundreds of media members were devouring his every word all week in Miami, a lot has come out on Mostert.
Turns out, he's really had it rough. And it didn't get better — didn't break away from danger — until he ran off to Purdue.
Here's what we learned this week:
- He grew up surfing in shark-infested waters off of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., and loved every minute of it, even on day where he was around people who were attacked by sharks.
- He has never met his biological father, and the man his mother was with while Mostert was growing up is actually in jail for shooting his half-brother.
- He knew he had to get away from the gangs around his Florida neighborhood, so when it was time to go to college, he wanted to get away as far as he could. That's why he said no to all the Florida schools and came to Purdue.
- He met his wife Devon at Purdue, spotting her working out one day. It was love at first sight.
- Mostert is such a fun and engaging personality that many of the friends he made at Purdue are still great friends today.
- When he does make friends, that bond is strong and the friendship lasts forever.
That was especially true, and clearly evident on Sunday. After the game, Mostert was running off the field to avoid the Chiefs' confetti shower, but in the runway to the locker room, Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams had tracked him down.
The two, similar in many ways because they were both undrafted backs who are shining years later after finally getting a chance, became friends when they were both in camp together with the Miami Dolphins, one of the six teams that cut Mostert.
They've remained great friends since then, and talk all the time. Williams sought him out to console him after the loss, and that says a lot about Williams, too, to find his friend instead of celebrating with his teammates.
In the runway, they swapped jerseys and hugged. Friends first, win or lose. It was an emotional moment.
"We've kind of had the same journey. He's somebody I really clicked to quick,'' Williams said. "I told him this before the game, win or lose it doesn't matter, speak to me after this game and we're going to have our moment together.''
"He's my friend.''
Postgame moments that will last forever
Mostert has been breaking a lot of 49ers rushing records in the playoffs that used to belong to Frank Gore, the future Hall of Fame running back. Mostert and Gore know each other through another Purdue contact, Duane Carlisle, who was the strength and conditioning coach at Purdue with Mostert, and he worked with Gore at the 49ers for several years.
Gore was in the 49ers locker room after the loss, and he consoled Mostert, who was taking the defeat hard, especially since they blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“He told me to just keep my head up, and that he was proud of me,” Mostert said of Gore. “He’s been watching me work. For him to say that to me is very special because he’s a Hall of Famer, and I look up to him.
“It was cool that he came up and talked to me, and makes me feel like we’re going to bounce back.”
Mostert, who shares time in the backfield with former Indiana star Tevin Coleman, hated seeing the game slip away. The 49ers, who had moved the ball well all game, managed only 49 yards on their final four offensive possessions.
“It’s one of those things. We didn’t get the job done, and it’s unfortunate,'' Mostert said. "We left the trophy out there.”
He will have the memory, though, of scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl. And, he promises, he will be back for more.
"I've always been a person with that drive to succeed," he said earlier in the week. "I never really had much when I was younger. It was a hunger to succeed and make it out. Me and my wife talk about it all the time. I didn't have the best childhood. I didn't have that ideal childhood. I have to show everyone what I can do."
"I have a family to support. I don't want to be back on the street. I've put too much time in this to not perform."
He won't have to worry about that now after being rewarded with a 3-year, $8.7 million contract last week. All that hard work, through all those years, has finally paid off.
"I love the game. I want to play," he says. "Everybody wants to be financially stable, but I'm looking at the bigger picture. I want to teach life lessons to my son. I want him to grow up and say: 'My dad did this, and this is what he did to overcome that. He taught me this, this and this.'
"That means way more to me than money or being the last guy on the depth chart. If I apply something from the game of football to life, I'm more than happy to do that."
It's been a nice run for Raheem Mostert. But this isn't the end of some fictional fairy tale.
No, it's not.
For Mostert, in many ways, this is just the beginning, even 10 years later.