I have been putting off posting this blog for a few weeks now because I’ve been telling myself they don’t deserve it. But who am I fooling with my fanatical hate, winning justifies praise. So, here is my piece in honor of the victors of Super Bowl 51, the New England Patriots.
Now, let me first inform you that I am a Giants and Jets fan. Secondly, I support any team playing against the Patriots. Any team. Thus, I am writing this tribute despite my abiding strong dislike (hatred) for the Patriots. To be honest, I dislike all Boston teams. My general dislike was entrenched when the Boston Red Socks game back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat my Yankees in the 2004 ACLS Championship. And was I vexed! We have elephant memories around 161st and Jerome Ave (Yankee Stadium) and we hold grudges too. You can imagine then, how elated I was when my NY Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42. Actually, we beat them twice. You may remember Super Bowl 46.
But it has not always been a sour relationship between Yankees and New Englanders. In 1773, New Yorkers supported the Boston tea party protest against the tyrannical British occupiers. In those days we were all on the same team, and that team was called- Yankees. Well, actually the instigators called themselves the “Sons of Liberty”. It was the British, in their attempt to be derisive who called us Yankees, and for that we got independence and 27 World Series Championships.
But in all seriousness, after I have done mourning and even gloating, my reflection on the success of the Patriots as moved me from hatred to not only respect, but admiration. Their win reminded me of the ethics and values we need to succeed.
So What does it take to win?
What I admire most about sport stars is their relentless drive to win. They train hard. They play even harder. They seem to have an insatiable desire to be the best, to excel, to win. Essentially, winning becomes them. And we love winners. It’s the reason we compare those who accomplish great feats to Michael Jordan. It’s the reason we get up early to watch Messi score goals or Serena slide on the clay court of the Stade Roland Garros. Because no other profession shows humanity what you can achieve with hard work and determination quite as clearly as sports does. It ‘s the reason we are still in awe at how Tom Brady and his compatriots came back from a great deficit and won. Sports reveals, like no other, what it takes to win.
I know many people will mention the serious accusations and findings of cheating against the Patriots as a mark against their success. Of course there are no excuses for cheaters. We must not lift any banner to celebrate their apparent success, or throw any parade to show off their unjust enrichment. Any claim to success should have the unreserved backing of fair play. For too long we have decorated thugs to look like Robin Hood, when in fact they are more likely to look like Bernie Madoff. To the extent, therefore, that the Patriots are guilty of cheating, they aught to be punished and I believe they were. However, to say that the Patriot’s success is based on cheating ignores the toil and struggle a team must endure to be called champions. Lets not be silly, you don’t win 5 Super Bowls because you recorded a few practices; you certainly don’t come back from a 21-point deficit because you used deflated footballs. No, winning takes more than the apparatus you use to accomplish some task and it takes more than manipulating the regulations that govern your space. Wining takes more than the voices that cheer you on or the shouts that disapprove. To say that the Patriot’s won because they are cheaters impugns the values that made them winners in the first place: Tenacity, resilience, hard work, determination, preparation, focus, motivation, confidence and self reflection. Winning takes everything. It takes all of you. Tom Brady and the Patriots won because they did whatever it took to win.
Whatever it takes
Even the mere rumors of the savviness of that evil empire (fanatical hate) is an indication that they have the will to do whatever it takes to win. Fans don’t usually see all the grind athletes put in to place themselves in a position to win. During the off season athletes are still working on their craft. They live in gyms and on playgrounds. They eat the boring, healthy foods we shun, and are constantly sore from the rigors of daily training. Their bodies take a hammering to carve out the picturesque physique we see on television. Any decline in their performance can cost them millions of dollars in salaries and endorsements. Their reputation is at stake. And there are no cubicles to hide behind after a harsh word from the boss. When you play for leagues that commands millions of viewers, the whole world sees when you flop. Sports can certainly teach us a thing or two about life: the struggle of preparation, the toil of determination, the spirit of resilience are the key ingredients of a winner’s mentality.
I love hearing stories about winners, and not only the winners we celebrate when we buy jerseys and tea cups. But also the unheralded, underestimated, misunderstood dreamer, who despite the odds, comes back time after time and wins. Just regular people who continue to do whatever it takes to win. They sent more emails. They stayed up later than everyone else. They networked. They are the ones sending out resumes and writing proposals and requesting an increased in pay, or asking for a promotion. They understood that failure is short term; that a denial is only a signal for another way out. Because for them, whatever it takes means being counted out yet still knocking down doors. Whether putting up with a nasty boss or a rude professor, winners do whatever it takes to turn unpleasant situations into successful stories. So When no one is clocking your hours, or you volunteer for that time consuming project, or you throw a helping hand into your colleague’s work for the benefit of the team, you are doing whatever it takes to win. And there are more challenges yet to come, but you have been here before; you know what it takes. For when the whistle blows, the team depending on you, and it seems like the whole world is watching, you will deliver one of the most spectacular performances the world has ever seen; Bradyesque. Many people have talents, but you only win when you are willing to do whatever it takes. Like one of my brothers, who was answering phones for 3 years as a customer service representative, is now making presentations before the CEO of the same company and leading multi-million dollar projects. What a comeback. What a performance. Whatever it takes bro. Whatever it takes.