I will start off by saying I’m a Falcons fan. I’m fighting off tears as I write this, mere hours after we had a surefire Super Bowl win under our belt … all we needed was to milk some clock on our next to last drive, get in field goal range and we had it won! Instead, the Patriots pulled the biggest come from behind win in Super Bowl history and the city of Atlanta collectively screamed in agony.
As I sat there in disbelief watching the Patriots celebrate, I came to the realization that what I had just witnessed was much greater than a football game. It was very apparent that the world had just seen true greatness. Individual greatness in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, but moreso, collective greatness in a team that found themselves down 25 points with 25 minutes, 46 seconds left to play, yet fought back to victory.
The resilience the Patriots illustrated is exactly what it takes to succeed.
Here are a few takeaways from the game (besides a gaping hole in my heart) that apply to the pursuit of excellence:
Never give up. Outside of the Rocky movies, rarely do you get to see such an incredible display of perseverance than we did during Super Bowl LI. Many will say it’s attributed to Coach Belichick and how hard he drives the team, some may say the Falcons choked the game away and others may chalk it up to sheer luck … regardless, the Patriots never gave up. On the biggest stage in the world, with literally tens of millions of people watching, every individual on the field wearing blue found something within them that would not allow them to quit, even when the outlook was bleak.
When you make it to the top level in your profession, you have experienced highs and lows very few others can relate to. Peak performers always take the circumstances they’re given and push forward, regardless of the seemingly dire outcome.
Where you started doesn’t determine where you’re headed. Tom Brady was pick #199 in the 6th Round of the 2000 NFL Draft. That means there were 198 other people who entered the NFL that year who were thought to be a better investment than him.
The quarterback drafted just before Tom Brady was Spergon Wynn. He started one game in his rookie season - a 48-0 loss. He played for two teams in his short NFL career, the Cleveland Browns and the Minnesota Vikings. He had 585 career passing yards. In Super Bowl LI, presumably the toughest opposition a QB would ever face, Tom Brady threw for 466 yards. That’s 79.6% of the total yards Wynn passed for in his entire career. Brady did that in the toughest game of his career.
Yet when the owners, general managers and head coaches of all 32 teams during the 2000 NFL Draft were evaluating talent, there was a consensus - at least among a few knuckleheads - that Spergon Wynn was the better choice over Tom Brady.
Clearly, you don’t have to be the most highly touted prospect to end up being the greatest of all time. Or, as it pertains to business, you don’t have to be on the Inc 5000 list or have every person telling you, “Your startup idea is awesome! How can I invest?” Often, the best ones are the ones you don’t see coming … defying the odds is undoubtedly a key driver in their success trajectory.
Good leadership is required. Say what you want about Bill Belichick, but the guy can lead men. You don’t take five different groups of guys to Super Bowl victories without knowing a thing or two about getting the best out of your team. Belichick has proven time and again that he is one of the greatest NFL coaches of all time and Super Bowl LI may very well have been his crown jewel.
Yes, we saw him sulking on the sideline multiple times during the game. Yes, he is known to berate officials and Super Bowl LI was no different. And, yes, we’re all tired of the Patriots winning so often. But there were two things I noticed about him during the broadcast:
- He never accepted defeat.
- The first thing he said when he got on the stage to accept the Lombardi trophy was, “This win was about all of these guys!” as he pointed to his team.
Talk about leadership! Success depends upon solid leadership and good leaders remain optimistic and always give credit as opposed to taking it. While you may never be faced with a major deficit on a global stage, holding true to these leadership qualities will strengthen loyalty from your team and push them to places they didn’t know were possible.
Congratulations to the Patriots on a well-deserved Super Bowl victory and, more importantly, showing the world - regardless of your allegiances - that a group of individuals bound together by a unifying goal and unwavering leadership can indeed defy all odds.