Sunday, February 6, 2011

What it takes to be number 1

"Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

"There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that's first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay, and I don't ever want to finish second again. There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win.

"Every time a football player goes to play his trade he's got to play from the ground up — from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That's O.K. You've got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you've got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you're lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he's never going to come off the field second.

"Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization — an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win — to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don't think it is.

"It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That's why they are there — to compete. To know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules — but to win.

"And in truth, I've never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn't appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat.

"I don't say these things because I believe in the "brute" nature of man or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle — victorious."

-Vince Lombardi

Once upon a time, many decades ago the Pittsburgh Steelers quite literally meant nothing to football fans. They were awful. For four decades they stunk up the NFL. And during that time the Green Bay Packers dominated. During the 60s they won 5 NFL Championships, the last three consecutively which happened to include the first two Super Bowls. Also those last two NFL Championships were contested between the Packers and the Cowboys. They were extremely close games between very good teams. But both times Lombardi beat Tom Landry, then went on to win the first two super bowls and the Lombardi trophy came into existence. If the outcomes had been slightly different that trophy would've been called the Landry trophy.

The next decade two teams would dominate that competition. One of them was the same: the Cowboys. The other was a new comer to the NFL Spotlight: the Steelers. The Cowboys would go on to play in half of the super bowls of the 1970s, losing 3 of them. Two of those loses came to the Steelers. And the Steelers would become who we know they are today: the most dominant team of the Super Bowl Era.

This year's super bowl is really special because history will be made. Either the Steelers will be the first to win 7 Super Bowls or the Packers will be the 4th franchise to win 4 and have a grand total of 13 NFL Championships, won over the course of the three major eras of NFL history. Either way the outcome is epic. And its all happening on the Cowboys home turf, following one of the worst seasons in Cowboys history. And the Packers had to go through their arch rival Chicago Bears to get here. The only way it could've been more dramatic as if the Steelers had to play either the Ravens or Browns in the AFC Championship game.

These three teams are not truly rivals in the regular sense of the word. They don't play each other that often. But when they do alot is at stake. Three superbowls have been contested between the Cowboys and Steelers. Each time a significant milestone was at stake. The first time in 76 it would determine which franchise would be the third to win two superbowls. The Steelers won. Then again in 79 it would determine which franchise would be the first to win 3 superbowls. The Steelers won again. Then in 1996 it would determine which franchise would be the second to win 5 superbowls, and finally the Cowboys were victorious. But since then the Steelers have won two more superbowls and the Packers have also won another superbowl, and the cowboys have clearly been struggling. What these three teams are competing for each year is not really what other teams are competeing for. Each one is held to a high standard, each one has national attention fixed on them. Each one is severly hated and deeply loved. Each one is in one way or another the greatest Franchise in NFL history. And each one isn't really competing for a Superbowl each year, they are really competing for Greatness in general. And in one way or another each of these three teams has their reputation on the line today. But make no mistake this is one of the most important Super Bowls ever. I hope it's a great one.

I am a true blue cowboys fan, and no matter who wins today it will sting. But they don't call us the cryboys for nothing. The wins are exhuberant and the losses are heartwrenching, they don't do anything small in Texas, as can be shown by how this first Dallas hosted Super Bowl looks to be. This was supposed to be our year. We were supposed to be the first team to play at home for the Super Bowl. But our season went into the toilet pretty quickly. The stakes couldnt' have been higher and we totally choked. And now our only real rivals for the claim of America's Team are playing in the Super Bowl we were supposed to be playing in, on our homefield. But this is such a great end to a crazy season that its hard to be upset.

Before Super Bowl XIX Ronald Reagan performed the coin flip via Satelite from the oval office. And he gave the nation the perfect football prayer:

May everyone do their best,
May there be no injuries,
May the best team win,
And no one have regrets.

No comments:

Post a Comment