So the Superbowl happened yesterday. I thought I’d write on the commercials. But I found them lacking. And I won’t even mention the creepy chimera that I believe was the worst commercial of all. I will insert my favorite Superbowl commercial of all time. I haven’t found one to top this gem yet.
End Commercial break.
Two elite teams battled, one came out on top. The one not on top faces endless speculations of “what-ifs” or “should-haves.” The winner becomes known for brilliant strategy and cunning planning. The loser must defend “what were you thinking?” And the dreaded “everyone knows you should have done this instead of that!”
Congratulations to the Denver Broncos. Kudos to head coach, Gary Kubiak. Two thumbs up to defense guru, Wade Phillips. And, from someone not much older than Peyton Manning himself, tip of my hat to a job well done.
I like the Carolina Panthers. I think they had an incredible season. Only two losses. The Panthers join a short list, only ten other teams, to have such a near-perfect season.
I could quote cliche after cliche about how losses lead to learning. But I won’t. I will quote my fencing coach. He likes to say, “when a kid wins, it’s because of a talented kid. When a kid loses, it’s because of bad coaching.” I like the deeper meaning of this message. Parents, kids, athletes, everyone, they love to bask in their own greatness and deflect failure as being caused by others. Maybe it’s not right but it is normal.
Professional football players, or any elite athlete, stir my interest. Talent plays a role, yes, but there must be more. We’ve seen too many talented players fail because they were found lacking. Self-discipline? Work ethic? Maybe even good coaching?
But what separates the hard-working talented player from the elite? Genetics? Earl Campbell, former running back and my favorite football player of all time, had incredible power and, obviously, fast twitch muscles. Bum Phillips, former head coach of the Houston Oilers, was asked about Earl Campbell’s inability to finish a one-mile run. He famously said, “when it’s first and a mile, I won’t give it to him.” Earl Campbell had the genetics.
But it’s not just genetics. Hard work. Discipline. And something more. Earl Campbell said it wasn’t acceptable for just one person to tackle him. In fact, he said it was girly if four, five, or six men didn’t bring him down. Elite athletes come to win. Participation trophies are a disgrace. Losing is painful. It is about winning. The pain. The hard work. The sacrifice. It all becomes instantly better with the W. No, that’s not it. There’s something more, those with the fierce “I must WIN” nature ingrained in them. I’m not talking about something bad. But something that drives them to be the best. Like a dying man crawling towards the life-saving water or a mother who pushes all reason aside, battling larger and fiercer foes, in order to save her offspring. It is a hunger. A drive. A healthy dose of competitiveness. Competition.
And speaking of competitiveness, I’d like to finish with my favorite clip from Superbowl L (yes, I believe they should have kept the Roman numerals). Peyton Manning’s family was excited to see him seal up the victory. Except maybe his brother. Another elite quarterback with two Superbowl rings. And now his older brother has two Superbowl rings. I have no criticism of Eli. All I see is two very competitive men. And one just realized he has to go out and win a third Superbowl to beat his brother. You gotta love competition.
How about you, dear reader? What were your takeaways from yesterday’s game?