It’s the day after the Super Bowl. The dust has settled and the trophies have been distributed in the midst of the confetti at mid-field. There was a lot of pomp and bragging before the teams took the field on a sunny Sunday afternoon, then for a little more than three hours grown men played a game they’ve known since youth to decide the champion.
In the two week run-up to Super Bowl Sunday we were told the David and Goliath story by those in the know. We saw the examples of the behemoth in black and blue taking photos to celebrate victories before they happened. We heard the demands for respect. He lived through the comparisons to the “All Time Great” teams. We witnessed the “Notice Me” behavior of gold “MVP” shoes from the leader. And after all was said and done, the biggest talkers sat in silence and said almost nothing.
Gone were the predictions. Gone were the boasts. Gone was the words “I” and “me”. Everything had suddenly become “we”… “We dropped passes”…”We allowed sacks”…”We committed turnovers”.
This whole experience looks a lot like my life…I was that brash man telling the world how incredible I was and demanding that it notice what I could do. Then we played the game and I had to sit in front of the cameras and answer the tough questions. There are natural consequences to the actions we take and life doesn’t care much about “fair”, “forgive”, or “grace”. I’ve had to deal with all of the nonsense that I participated in. I couldn’t just get up and leave the microphones silent when I had had enough.
My recovery has been that post-game press conference in the loser’s locker room. But the great thing is this: as time passes we can change from the latest hated loser into the next Buffalo Bills. In the early 90’s we knew them as the four time losers that no one outside of Upstate New York cared to see in the Big Game. Now we are able to look back with admiration for the fight that they had. This only happened because they did not shrink in defeat. They did not run from the pain, but rather, they faced it and embraced it. They did not allow their losses to define them. Instead they harnessed its crippling power and re-purposed it to offset their victories. They acknowledged it and allowed it to strengthen their story. They included it in a story of survival to teach us all how to persevere.
We have the same opportunity as Cam Newton. We have the ability to let others see us survive with dignity. It’s more than a cute phrase at the end of a blog…it’s a challenge!