I love reading articles on teams well
before a season begins, talking about whether they have done enough
to finally get to the Super Bowl or the World Series or what have
Pundits and those alike talk about a
team having the talent to win a title. They question whether the
pieces of the puzzle are in place, whether the drive is there,
whether they can finally beat that hated rival that has kept them
from glory so many times.
But then comes the element(s) that no
one can predict. In a nutshell, it’s playing your best at the right
time. But it’s also injuries (or in this case, lack thereof), not
just who you play but when you play them, forming team chemistry over
the course of a season, and other events that transpire that no one
can foresee coming.
This is not to say that you don’t have
to be a good team to win it all. In essence, sometimes it is as
simple as just getting to the dance, regardless of whether you show
up with the best-looking date or all alone. As long as you’re there,
you’ve got a chance to score a trophy.
People wouldn’t peg you as a “genius”
or an “expert” had you picked the New York Giants to win it all
in 2011. Or Nostradamus had you tabbed the San Francisco Giants in
2010. Or a prodigy if you truly believed the New Orleans Saints –
they of two previous franchise playoff wins in their history –
would win Super Bowl XLIV following the 2009 campaign.
Make no mistake – those teams were
good. Really good. But they weren’t on many people’s radars even when
the postseason party came along or, in the case of the Saints, no one
could have seen a potential perfect season in the making given two
previous non-winning seasons.
Yet, the playoff matchups worked in
their favor. They were playing with house money, playing with no
regard for how anyone thought they would do. In the New York Giants’
case, Vernon Davis’ touchdown catch was the best thing that could
have happened to them, because it meant they didn’t have to travel to
New Orleans to play a Saints team that has not only owned them but
completed annihilated them in that process.
It was also bad news for the Packers
when the Giants came calling, because New York was the one – and I
still believe only – team that stood a chance to beat them. 37
points later, Green Bay’s near-perfect season was history.
A year earlier, it was the Packers who
squeaked into the postseason after going just 8-6 in their first 14
games. At 10-6 and playing as the No. 6 seed in the NFC – no
sixth-seeded team in the NFC had ever reached the Super Bowl – a
Lombardi Trophy didn’t seem all that likely.
Four wins and one smoking-hot
quarterback later, the Lombardi Trophy came home to Green Bay for the
Now to be fair, the Packers were a
chic pick to win it all in 2010. But let’s be honest and ask
ourselves, how many of those who picked them before the season would
have had the guts to stay with that pick when they were 8-6? Very
few? Try none.
That simply reinforces the point that
even when a team is expected to win a championship and does, it never
unfolds the way it’s “supposed” to. Rarely does a team just waltz
through an entire year and coast to a title. There are bumps in the
road, unforeseen circumstances that make our opinions change on a
weekly, sometimes even nightly, basis. That’s the beauty of sports
though, isn’t it?
“Putting a ring on it” is a
complicated process. Comparable to a girlfriend who has no idea she’s
about to become a fiancee and, ultimately, a wife. Or a two-day visit
to Vegas that turns into a lifetime of great stories. The potential
is there, but we don’t know how it’s going to go down. Life is indeed
like a box of chocolates.