I can see it now. The year is 2020. It’s the final question, the million dollar question on Who Wants to be a Millionaire—who won Super Bowl XXXVI? The St. Louis Rams were 14-2 that season. They set an NFL record by scoring 500 or more points in a season for the third straight year. Kurt Warner was MVP and Marshall Faulk Offensive Player of the Year. The Rams were 14 point favorites to win the Super Bowl. It was going to be the start of a new football dynasty. Nobody could stop “The Greatest Show on Turf”. Obviously the Rams won Super Bowl XXXVI.
Beep! Wrong answer! The New England Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI. They won with the last kick in the last second of the game and walked off 20-17 victors in what has to be one of the best, most exciting, and most improbable Super Bowls of all time.
Everybody and their grandmother predicted a Rams blow out. It was going to be embarrassing. The game was going to be over as a contest by the end of the half. After all, the Patriots weren’t even supposed to be in the Super Bowl, they were supposed to lose to the Steelers in the AFC Championship game. Guess somebody forgot to give the Patriots a copy of the script.
The beauty of sport lies in its unpredictability. If the outcome to every game was known in advance, why play at all? The truth is, once you get to a certain level of sport, in this case a professional level, it all comes down to the will to win, to who wants ‘it’ more. In a one game, winner take all scenario, this truth is all the more evident. It was obvious from the kick-off that the Patriots wanted ‘it’ more than Rams. They out-muscled, out-hustled, and in the end out-played the Rams.
The Patriots had gotten no respect all season from anybody outside their locker room, but they were determined to earn that respect. They were going to prove not only that they deserved to be in the Super Bowl, but that they were good enough to win the whole shebang. That, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what they did.
In closing, allow me to steal a line from Houston Rocket’s coach Rudy Tomjanovich: “Never underestimate the heart of a champion.” Here’s to the New England Patriots—Super Bowl XXXVI Champions.