With our beloved Patriots back in the Super Bowl for the 9th time, it stirs up a lot of emotions for football fans both locally and nationally. Living in New England, with the success we have had in not only football, but in the other big three (Baseball, Hockey & Basketball), it’s easy for the younger generations to take it for granted how rare this run is for a city with four major professional sports franchises. For perspective, my oldest daughter is eleven years old. If things go the way we hope, she will bare witness to her 10th Championship Parade in her lifetime. Crazy, but true.
Last week, prior to the AFC Championship game versus the Steelers, I was talking to a friend who is living here, but originally from Pittsburgh. When discussing the game, I said that we were going to beat them, but also giving respect to his team. He simply laughed and said, “You Pats fans are SO arrogant! You always think you’re so much better than everyone else.”
I wasn’t surprised, considering the notion that unless you are from here, you hate the Patriots regardless of who they are playing. Hence the expression, “You hate us cuz you ain’t us!” I get it, no one likes to see one city dominate the way we have for the past 15 years. However, I said, “Just because I think we are going to win doesn’t make me ‘arrogant’. I’m simply CONFIDENT that our team is better than yours.” I went on to explain to him the difference. “Arrogance”, I said, “is either of us saying ‘my team is going to kick your teams ass this weekend!’ and continuing to demean the other by siting reasons like your Coach is a baby and our is the G.O.A.T. or saying your QB is a womanizer/abuser and ours is the G.OA.T.” I went onto to say, “CONFIDENCE is not just saying these things, but backing them up with the courage to place a ‘friendly’ wager on the game. I’m willing to, are you?” He immediately took the offensive and stared clear of putting his money where his mouth was (arrogance).
Fast forward to this week and a discussion I had with my business partner who lives in Atlanta who owns Georgia Massage School. He of course believes that his team will prevail on Sunday. My 9 year old daughter, who was ease dropping on the call, chimed in and said, “You guys are going to lose!” I informed Lilah of the difference between being arrogant versus confident and wondered if she would be willing to do more than just talk the talk with Rick (and Jesse, his 27 year old son who works at the Atlanta History Center). Hesitantly, she agreed, but pondered first what the wager would be.
The loser of Super Bowl LI must purchase a Super Bowl LI Championship hat for the winner. However, prior to sending the victor the spoils, the losers must wear the hat for a day at their place of work or in Lilah’s case, school. Lilah wears something Patriots/sports related to school on a daily basis, so this WILL NOT go unnoticed if she has to don the lid of the Falcons as champs. Although she shudders at the idea of having to do this if we lose, she understands that she must.
So, to all of you out there who rush to confuse arrogance with confidence, I pass the gauntlet to you the next time you remark that your team is better than another. Don’t just talk the talk. Be confident enough to also walk the walk. Most importantly, be ready to win with graciousness and if the gods favor the other on that faithful day, lose with dignity and make good on your promise.