Thursday, February 7, 2008

What the Super Bowl Taught Me

To many people, the Super Bowl is just another football game.
The biggest football game of the season, yes, but a game nonetheless.
This year, I saw the Super Bowl as the ultimate lesson in perseverance and resiliency.

Wait. Did I just say resiliency?
Funny, that’s just the word that Fox used to describe the New York Giants, in a pre-game profile. The profile featured Giant players, explaining the definition of the word “resilience”.

Here’s that definition, in the Giants' own words:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRsYROOO20w


As I watched, I thought, no word better describes the exploits of this team, during its amazing run to the Big Game.

They started 0-2.
Things looked bleak for Giants fans.
Then, they started winning. On the road, no less.
They capped off the regular season by winning a playoff berth, and narrowly losing to the undefeated New England Patriots (38-35).
Then, the G-Men really got going!

First stop: Tampa Bay.
This game wasn’t even close! The Giants took it: 24-14

Next stop: Dallas.
The sports pundits said the Giants’ run was over. That there was no way they could beat a red-hot Cowboys team.
Well, it came down to the very last play in the game, but the Giants WON, 21-17.

Next up: The Packers. In Green Bay.
The temperature was –2, but factor in the wind chill and it plunged into a bigger deep-freeze. In the week leading up to this game, I heard many things from many people, all of them predicting that the Giants’ could not overcome Brett Favre or the Packers. In Green Bay, no less.
Well, it came down to a long field goal in overtime, following 2 shorter, missed field goals during regulation.
But guess what? Tynes MADE the field goal!
The Giants WON, 23-20.

Wow, whaddaya know? The G-Men are in the Super Bowl, a feat no one predicted. But did the Giants get the respect they earned and deserved?
NO.
Now, the talk turned to the Patriots’ run for perfection.
The oddsmakers made New England a double-digit favorite.
All the sports pundits talked about a 19-0 season as though it was a “sure thing.”
No one factored the Giants into the equation, except as a pesky fly to swat out of the way.
Boston began planning its ticker tape parade.
The 1972 Dolphins resigned themselves to the fact that their record was about to be shattered.

But wait.

The team that for a season, bounced back time after time. The team that defined the word: resilience in game after game. The team that pulled off some spectacular, last- minute plays and overcame so many obstacles to win when everyone wrote them off, decided to have something to say about the Pats’ Perfect Season.

The Giants came out to PLAY.
And PLAY, they did.
The offense ran the clock down for most of the first half and scored 3 before turning things over to Tom Brady and Co.
The defense welcomed Brady and Co. the best way it could, with blitzes, sacks and bone-crunching tackles.
When New England scored to make it 7-3, the Giants did not let up.

In the fourth quarter, the G-Men added a new word to the team dictionary: Grit.

Definition:
“Sense of pluck, spirit.” “Fortitude and determination.”

With gritty determination, the Giants showed why they not only belonged in the Super Bowl, but why they could win it.
They scored, to go ahead 10-7.
The Pats came back. Score now: 14-10.
With two minutes left in the game, the Giants stepped up.
Eli Manning stepped up. David Tyree stepped up. Plaxico Burress stepped up. Amani Toomer stepped up. Steve Smith stepped up. The offensive line stepped up.
If you haven’t seen the highlights of the last offensive drive, you need to go to YouTube and watch RIGHT NOW, because I cannot adequately describe it.
The amazing set of plays resulted in a Giants touchdown.
The score, now: 17-14.

Then, the Giants’ defense, the heroes of this game, stepped up for a final time.
And they showed Tom Brady, the Patriots and all the pundits out there who had written the G-Men off time and time again, why it’s unwise to overlook this scrappy New York Team.

The rest, as they say, is history.
And herein, lies the lesson I learned.

It’s not about winning.
It’s not even about football.

I learned that no matter what obstacles life (or people) throw in your way, to NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER GIVE IN.


You never know what awaits you at the top.