Before I begin, if you are reading this and you are not a diehard sports fan, you may not want to bother continuing. I say this not because I don’t want you to read this, but because you will not understand what you are about to read. The following is the story of one of the greatest sporting moments I have ever experienced, Super Bowl 51
My Super Bowl started much like other people’s, I went to a friend’s apartment for a party, there was lots of food, lots of drinks, and I went in with no doubt in my mind that the Patriots would win this game. I showed up an hour or so before kickoff, dressed in my usual Patriots gameday apparel (which is basically anything but Patriots stuff, for superstitious reasons). I ate some food, sipped some drinks, socialized and what not, it was a good time. The National Anthem came on, and I covered my heart as Luke Bryan and his amazing voice kicked off what was sure to be a fun night. I texted my boys and said “One for the thumb,” and the game began
This is when things started to get bad. Going down 7-0 didn’t really phase me. Our offense was struggling to move the ball, and the fact is the Falcons were clicking on both sides. These things happen, it’s was still early in the game, and I knew the Pats would be able to adjust at the half, now it’s just about not letting the deficit get to big…
And then its 14-0. Ok, admittedly I was breathing a little heavier now.
21-0. This is where things got bad for me. I started to shake uncontrollably, couldn’t speak much, felt nauseas, felt like I was going to start sweating, the works. I was having flashbacks to past Super Bowls, like in 2015, when we were up against Seattle in the 4th but they were driving down the field, and I experienced what can only be described as a panic attack. When Kearse made that catch on his back, I almost threw up, and I turned to my friend as said “It can’t be happening again (referring to the Tyree catch, and the Manningham catch in past Super Bowl losses).” I remember crying like a baby after those games.
A field goal before the half helped a little bit, but the shaking wasn’t stopping. I got up to go take a walk outside, just to get some fresh air. It helped a little. I came back in, snacked on whatever was left of the food, and made fun of Lady GaGa during the halftime show. I texted my same group of friends from before and said “We can come back. We will come back, and we will win this game. It ain’t ending like this.” I knew we could win it still, but I still can’t remember the last time I felt that stressed.
28-3. OK, now I just couldn’t move. My drunk friends are yelling at the TV saying the game is over, we suck. I couldn’t stand it anymore. None of them except one buddy of mine really knew the game of football, how it works, what each player meant to the team, and when criticism of the players was warranted or not. I had stopped drinking before the half, and learned that nothing sobers a person up more than losing. At this point, I made the decision to go back to my room and watch the game alone. I waited until the end of the 3rd, and quickly walked back with my friend. We got back, I told him it still wasn’t over, and we went our separate ways. I got to my room, shut the door, turned the TV on, turned the lights off, and sprawled out on the futon. What happened over the next hour or so was something that I can honestly say I will never forget.
We forced a punt relatively quickly, and turned that into a field goal. It helped, but it was still a 16-point game and the offense still didn’t look like itself. I took some deep breaths, and thought to myself, ok, let’s get another 3 and out, and see if we can get a big play.
And then it happened. Hightower forced the fumble, the Patriots recovered, and rather than getting excited or pumped up, I just got really calm. It was weird. It felt like I just knew what was going to happen the rest of the way, or at least I knew that we were somehow going to win. That fumble was a sign.
You know what happened. We scored, got the 2-point conversion (great play call on the direct snap I have to say), and now it was up to the defense again. Just under 6 minutes left, all we needed to do was get the ball back and not let them score. Simple, right?
Well it wouldn’t be the Super Bowl if there weren’t moments that gave fans heart attacks. Foreman down the left sideline for 39 yards, and then Julio Jones with the 27-yard toe tapping catch. At this point I was still pretty calm and still believed this game was ours, but my breathing got a little heavier. The Falcons were within field goal range, so obviously, we were going to get some sort of turnover, that’s just how it had to be.
The sack, the holding call, the incomplete pass, I almost laughed as I watched. All I could think is this is how Bill drew this game up, isn’t it? We took the fair catch and I texted a friend I had been talking to throughout the game, and I told her to turn up the volume and focus, because we were all about to witness history. The Patriots were going to tie this game, there was no doubt in my mind, so all I had to do was sit back, relax, and watch. There is no better feeling in the world than knowing how something like that is going to end. That level of confidence you get, it’s almost straight up cockiness. When Edelman, by some act of God, caught that ball, it felt like payback for the Tyree and Manningham catches years ago, we had to get one of those to. We got into the red-zone, and by now I was looking at the clock, thinking maybe they slow the pace down a bit, just so Atlanta doesn’t have any chance after the kickoff.
Tie game. All I could do was smirk and think to myself “it’s in the bag.” Tom Brady wasn’t going to lose this game, and we were going to the score the second we touched the ball in overtime. I called a friend of mine who was still at the party I had been at earlier. I asked her to turn the volume off, quiet everyone down, and put me on speaker. I pointed out how they were saying, not 4 minutes into the 2nd half, that this game was over and the Patriots were terrible, and then I told them (and I said no offense and I still love them all) “f*ck you.” Anyone who calls themselves a Patriots fan knows we always have a chance, because we have the greatest coach, quarterback, and owner in the history of football, and the greatest fans in the world. You can’t give up on these boys.
Overtime was a blur. I swear I looked down for a split second after we won the coin toss, and when I looked up we were champs. I wasn’t excited, I wasn’t shocked, I was calm. Like I said before, I knew we were going to win. This was a movie and I had already seen the ending. Everything I already knew was confirmed. Tom Brady was a 5-time Super Bowl champion and the greatest football player to ever walk the planet, and the New England Patriots were the greatest team on the planet. You only celebrate when something happens that you weren’t expecting, I knew this going to happen the whole time. Even as I write this, the morning after it happened, I still feel that same calm, collected feeling I felt last night, like everything is right and as it should be.
I watched Roger Goodell hand Robert Kraft the Lombardi Trophy, and earlier in the day, I said I couldn’t wait to see that happen, but when it did happen, I didn’t care. Roger Goodell is irrelevant, and doesn’t deserve my attention. My attention and praise was to focused on the team that just pulled off the greatest comeback in football history.
Everyone who’s ever played a sport or cares about it knows that sports teach us lessons. Well last night, the Patriots taught us all a very important one. Never give up. No matter how greatly the odds are stacked against you, never give up. Even when everyone has counted you out, never give up. Failing a class? Keep working. Physically not where you want to be? Don’t count yourself out. Personal life a mess? Stay positive and keep moving forward. No matter what you’re going through, just never give up.
Some of you are going to read this (and good for you for making it this far) and think I’m crazy, or I don’t have a life, or wonder how the hell I got all this from one freaking football game. Well, go ahead and think that, I’ll be enjoying myself, living my life, and dreaming about my favorite ring, the next one.
Enjoy the day Patriot Nation, and to my friends at the party, I still love ya’ll, but I likely won’t watch another Patriot Super Bowl with you ;)