More equipped than ever to live life on a solo track, we tend to forget the power of what it means to live with a team mindset.
There was no question this year who would win the Super Bowl. With eight Super Bowl appearances, five Super Bowl wins, and hailed as MVP four of those times, the answer appeared obvious. At 40 years old, Tom Brady had remained an all-star NFL quarterback since stepping in as Patriots QB to cover an injured Drew Bledsoe. With the Eagles’ arrival at the playoffs, for many experts there really wasn’t a question of who would win.
With few well-known names, a franchise that had arrived at the Super Bowl only three times with no prior wins, not to mention injured MVP candidate QB Wentz who would be replaced by Nick Foles on game day, the odds did not appear in the Eagles’ favor. Few projected the team stood a chance. When ESPN released its Super Bowl LII predictions from the network’s writers, editors, analysts, columnists, and pundits, the results were 61 Patriots to 24 Eagles. Sports analysts questioned, “Can a Wentz-less Eagles win the Super Bowl?” Pre-game headlines from Fox News, NBC Sports, The Washington Post, and even Super Bowl Nation read “Patriots Will Win.”
Perhaps a convinced media’s forecasts pushed anyone who wasn’t a New England Patriots fan to root for the underdogs. Because, while the media was analyzing and scrutinizing the Eagles, the rest of the world saw a spirited, brazen team with depth, which they were quick to get behind.
The Philadelphia Eagles astounded us all with a timeless performance, a first quarterback to ever catch a touchdown, and a victorious first Super Bowl win, producing the most combined total yards and just one point shy of tying with the most combined scoring Super Bowl game in NFL history.
Leading up to the game, the hype on Brady’s success was only heightened. Following the online documentary Tom vs. Time, it appeared the Pats would win because they had Brady, and Brady always won. But, this year, he didn’t. (Granted, New England’s 33 points were the most scored loss in Super Bowl history.)
The Patriots’ loss came after a notable feud erupted at the beginning of the year between Brady and Coach Belichick. As Brady had developed his own franchise within the success of the Patriots, the TB12 Method (Brady’s personal fitness and dietary regime, which he credits for his ability to continue playing professionally into his 40s), it was reported many Patriots players felt pressured to train with TB12 rather than with the team in order to be in good standing with Brady, while other players referred to the method as a “cult,” causing conflict of leadership on the field. At the end of the year, Belichick pulled Brady’s trainer and business partner, Alex Guerrero, from the sidelines and locker room. A strained relationship between Brady and Belichick quickly became a power struggle to determine who was behind the team’s 20-year dynasty.
Stepping onto the field, the spotlight on the G.O.A.T., the Patriots appeared to have all they needed for a strong win. But they were lacking one crucial element. Maybe the one thing over time we forget is the thrill of sports, what makes a winning team a team: camaraderie.
As kids, sports are often our introduction as to what can happen when we work together on a clear goal, how to be about more than our own agenda. As we increasingly function in a self-focused, spotlighted, solo-tracked way of life, we tend to miss out on wins meant to be celebrated as a community, as a company, as a team. Even in our own sports viewing, we can forget the real magic behind the game.
Had the Patriots won, that next morning all the newspapers would’ve read, “Brady Wins Again!” But, when the Eagles won, Philadelphia papers printed “At Last!” “The Eagles Win!” “Wonderdogs!” (and also “Philly Dilly”).
At the white-knuckle end of the game, once the Eagles began to roar at their victorious win, spectators noticed no handshake took place between the two quarterbacks. Brady never appeared to congratulate Foles on his win.
During a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel asked Foles, “Did you hear from Tom Brady after the Super Bowl?”
“I haven’t heard from him yet,” Foles replied. “I know he’s got a lot going on.”