Listening to ESPN Radio in the lead-up to Sunday’s Super Bowl, I heard several former players talk about their career experiences. The Patriots’ All-Pro linebacker Teddy Bruschi mentioned playing in five championship games over 12 years. When he said it was no fun losing two of the Roman numeral classics, an ex defensive tackle – who never got there in a decade of chances – said, “I’m not feeling sorry for you.”
The Super Bowl, of course, is the biggest thing in American sports, with the nation – and many around the world – stopping to watch the plays, see the halftime performance and check out the new commercials. It’s become a tradition to gather with family and friends each February for cheering, celebration and critiquing… and a lot of good food.
My personal brush with greatness that is the Super Bowl happened 30 years ago this month. As a 21-year-old producer of sports at a local television station in Dallas, my heart was ripped out when Dwight Clark out-leaped Everson Walls to beat the Cowboys in the NFC Championship and send the 49ers on to Detroit where they won the first of their five titles. I was standing just yards away when he made what came to be forever known as ‘The Catch.’ Unfortunately, that’s the closest I’ve come to making it to football’s summit.
So when you watch the Super Bowl, regardless of which team you’re rooting for, think about all the players who will only have this one opportunity to perform on that stage. It takes years of hard work and dedication to make it in the NFL, and a few athletes will never again experience such lofty heights. Here’s hoping it’s a great game… and some unheralded player turns in the performance of his life.