This was going to be the year that the Atlanta Falcons were supposed to win it all, and what could be better than proving themselves on the biggest stage against the vaulted New England Patriots football club, the juggernaut of the NFL for the last decade and a half. Long suffering Falcons fans, having never witnessed a championship, were to finally be rewarded for their team allegiance with a season to remember, capped off with an epic Super Bowl victory in Super Bowl 51. Matt Ryan, in his ninth season, all with the Falcons, looked more focused than ever, no stage too big or intimidating for this quarterback coming into his prime. In other words the stage was set!
The Falcons came out of the gate on a mission and went into the half with a substantial lead of 21-3. With the Falcons an underdog of -3 points according to the experts in Las Vegas, the sports watching world (which for the Super Bowl is everyone in America and their cat) was shocked! Falcons fans, having known the true nature of this special unit were gloating and boasting that the world was finally coming around to what they had known all season long, this team was legit and the most dangerous team in the NFL. With a little over eight minutes to go in the third quarter the Falcons added to their lead and scored another touchdown, increasing their dominant lead to 28-3. The ESPN statistical analysis had the Falcons' odds of winning the game at an amazing 99%! A quarter and a half would still have to be played, but at this point time was just standing in the way of the inevitable, long awaited Falcons victory.
If only that was the way the story played out in real time! History will record Tom Brady's Patriots as achieving the greatest come back in Super Bowl history, defeating my beloved Falcons 34-28 in the first ever Super Bowl game to go into overtime (insert sad face emoji). It was truly a game of two halves, with the Falcons taking the first half with their explosive offense and energetic young defense, and the Patriots taking over the game in the second half with a defensive unit that found its footing and an offense headed by sure-fire first round Hall of Famer Tom Brady. Viewers could see the look in Brady's eyes as the Patriots scored and then scored again. He was cool and confident and would bring his team back, against all odds, with the sheer force of his giant-sized will. This was Brady being Brady - finding a way to pull off the impossible and make it look easy all the while.
An article on fivethirtyeight.com about this incredible game was titled (to the dismay of Falcons fans) "The Patriots And Falcons Became Who We Thought They Were." The Falcons could not break through their Super Bowl glass ceiling and Tom Brady found yet another way to take the Lombardi tro
phy home. As hard as it may be for a Falcons fan still in the midst of athletic shiva, I must admit that what Tom Brady accomplished was a sight to behold and laden with lessons for anyone who aspires to similar degrees of greatness in any arena of life. With all that Brady had accomplished until now, four championships, three Super Bowl MVP trophies, two season MVP awards, twelve Pro Bowl selections and all the money you would need for ten lifetimes (including inflation!), you couldn't fault the man if his passion or desire for the game and its ultimate prize were to slowly wane. And yet, here he was again, face filled with focus, desire and will, and even the casual viewer at home on his Lazy-Boy knew that a miracle was just around the corner.
An ancient phrase, coined by an unknown wise man, says it all: "nothing stands in the way of desire." With desire the impossible comes into our reach. It would seem then that if we desire a life of success and accomplishments, it is our desire-meter that we should be most concerned with tending and monitoring. As long as our desire is strong success will surely follow.
Have trouble waking up early in the morning? Finding your bed more appealing than an early drive to shul or an early morning workout? A powerful book I recently read on a plane to New york called The Miracle Morning suggests you examine if you have sufficiently honed in on your life goals and aspirations. Once clarified, our goals and the hope of accomplishing those goals wake us out of our slumber and into a day of goal oriented focus and toil. Clearly defined, measurable goals are the breeding ground of desire and desire the breeding ground of success. Tom Brady taught us something in 2017, lets hope the Falcons learn from this loss, increase their focus and desire and teach Tom Brady a thing or two in 2018!