The Kansas City Chiefs’ Big Mensch


Jewish players are not strangers to the Super Bowl — past National Football League championship games have included several identified Members of the Tribe, notably New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, MVP of the 2019 Super Bowl.

But how many have given latke-making demonstrations?

That would be Mitchell Schwartz.

Schwartz is a 30-year-old offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs, who play the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in Super Bowl LIV, in Miami.

A native of California and graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (bachelor’s degree in American studies), he is an accomplished chef, and co-author of “Eat My Schwartz: Our Story of NFL Football, Food, Family, and Faith” (2016, St. Martin’s Press), which he wrote with his brother Geoff, a retired NFL lineman. The book features sports stories and a discussion of the brothers’ Jewish faith — and 20 pages of recipes.

At Kansas City’s JCC, Schwartz, who wears No. 71, has lectured on his culinary interests and religious observance and demonstrated his favorite latke recipe.

A durable player, Schwartz, who is 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, has not missed a game since he entered the NFL in 2012 with the Cleveland Browns.

Preparing for the big game, he was not available for an interview, but Rabbi Mendy Wineberg of Chabad of Leawood (a KC suburb) called the player, who with his brother was honored at a Chai Lifeline fundraising dinner, “very comfortable” as an identified Jewish public figure. Schwartz has taken part in a few public menorah-lighting ceremonies for Chabad. “He knew the brochas by heart,” the rabbi told The Jewish Week. “He hung around” after the menorah-lighting. “He spoke with people. He was very gracious.”

In his book, Schwartz describes a visit several years ago to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, where he met a group of Orthodox teens who peppered him with requests for autographs. “I think it takes experiences like that,” he wrote, “to make you realize just how much bigger [a career as a pro athlete] is than you think it is.”