The first month of 2021 is officially over. Man! Did that seem quick! As we make our way to the first weekend in February, you know what that means, Super Bowl LV is right around the corner.
This year the newly rejuvenated Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off against the defending NFL world champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. On game day, when the final seconds tick off the clock, one of those two teams will hoist the highly coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.
And speaking of Vince Lombardi, now that’s a name not only associated with Super Bowl Sunday, but one that clearly stands alone, even when placed along side of the growing list of football greats.
Vince Lombardi is considered by most to be the greatest football coach in the history of the game. (Sorry Bill Belichick.) Under his leadership the Green Bay Packers were winners of Super Bowl 1 in 1967. Lombardi took over as head coach in 1959 and, with basically the same players, transformed a losing team into unrivaled contenders. During nine seasons, from 1959 through 1967, Lombardi led his team to five championships; and the Green Bay Packers became a football legend.
Lombardi, never at a loss for words, believed any individual could be as great as he or she wanted to be. He drilled his winning formula into the minds of his players and taught them to have courage, determination, and competitive drive. Lombardi believed with hard work and a willingness to pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, the impossible could be accomplished.
Lombardi was committed to success and was convinced no matter what the endeavor, desire and heart superseded talent and ability. He didn’t just talk a good game; Vince Lombardi lived his life that way on and off the field. He was motivated by a tenacity that refused to allow him to think in terms of limitation or handicaps. Lombardi was sold out to his deep-seated convictions and had an uncanny manner of convincing others to follow the same characteristics that dominated his own lifestyle. Among these attributes were commitment, discipline, preparation, intensity, leadership, teamwork, and a heartfelt passion for winning.
Now, I may be wrong, but it appears as though a certain modern-day football hero bought into this same Lombardi winning philosophy. The player I’m referring to may well be the greatest NFL quarterback of all time (G.O.A.T.).
Of course I’m talking about Tom Brady, quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Prior to joining the Bucs this season Brady had an astonishing 20-year career with the New England Patriots, leading them to nine super bowl appearances and winning six titles, including Super Bowl Ll—the greatest comeback in super bowl history. (I just happened to be at that game.)
Now Brady has done it again! He has led his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to Super Bowl LV. Prior to this year, the Bucs experienced several miserable losing seasons in a row, going 5-11 in 2017 and 2018, and only winning 17 games in the last three years. (Even the Lions were better than that with 18 wins.) How embarrassing.
This year, with Tom Brady at the helm, the Bucs were 11-5 and they made the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. They beat Washington in the Wild Card round, defeated Drew Brees and the Saints in the division game, and pretty much shocked the sports world by knocking off Green Bay in the NFL Conference Championships. Now they’re going to the big game.
Most of you who talk sports with me know I have never been a huge Tom Brady fan. There’s no doubt, Brady has amazing talent and is highly competitive; he knows how to win. However, like Lombardi, I believe integrity and character trumps talent and ability. Additionally, leadership and teamwork rate really high on my personal priority scale, and I never thought of Brady as a good team leader. He had a hard time taking responsibility for failure, and for years and years I’ve watched an annoyed and arrogant Tom Brady lose his composure on the football field, at times throw tantrums and act like a child.
But this year, I witnessed a different Tom Brady. With his new teammates he had a lot more patience and self-restraint. If a receiver ran an errant route or dropped a catchable pass, if the referee missed a penalty or a disputed call didn’t go his way, Brady didn’t turn into a verbal madman, he handled it and played through the adversity.
This year Brady became a leader on the field and in the locker room. He taught the young Buc players to believe in themselves, and Brady convinced them they could win football games if they were willing to pay the price. In addition to his tremendous competitive edge, Brady modeled commitment, discipline, preparation, leadership, and teamwork. In so doing, he made everyone around him better; and come Sunday, believe it or not, I will be pulling for Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,
Everyone needs encouragement and wants to feel a part of something greater than themselves. Investing time in others and adding value to one another builds confidence and purpose. The power of leadership is best summarized with one word: influence. Our attitudes, actions, and behavior greatly impact those around us.