Super Bowl LIV between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers has come and gone. In case you weren’t aware, this year’s spectacle featured a great game against two pretty evenly-matched teams that saw the Chiefs eventually hold on for the 31-20 win to claim Kansas City’s first Super Bowl victory since 1969.
Tied at halftime. Dramatic comeback win. Compelling hero. All solid stuff. Here’s the thing, though. I didn’t really care. Sure, as a lifelong sports fan, it was nice to see a coach like Andy Reid finally get a championship to cap off an illustrious career. Then again, living only 20-25 minutes from where 49ers quarterback, Jimmy Garropolo, went to high school (Rolling Meadows High School), it would have been cool to see him win, too.
Like most of the 99.9 million people who tuned in to Fox on Sunday, I didn’t have a horse in this year’s race. Given that my “horse” is the Chicago Bears, most years are like that, actually. Whatever. I still watched.
But sitting here a few days later, it’s not the football that proved to be most salient for me.
No, what I saw on Sunday went beyond that. What I saw—what’s stuck with me—are some simple lessons that I hope to carry with me as I navigate my life, and wish to instill in my kids to prepare them for theirs. Five simple lessons, to be exact.
Here they are:
1. Follow Your Own Path
Patrick Mahomes, the game-winning Super Bowl LIV MVP of the Chiefs, is the son of former Major League Baseball player, Pat Mahomes. When he was younger, Patrick also played baseball—and he was pretty good at it. According to reports, despite his family’s preference that he pursue our national pastime, he decided to devote his attention to the gridiron. Now, no one can say how great a baseball player Patrick would have been, but we can say, with certainty, that right now, he’s on top of the football world. He followed his own path, and it paid off. If there’s one thing I want my sons to feel empowered to do, it’s to follow their path—even if it means going against what I think that path is.
2. Don’t Quit
With 7:23 remaining in the fourth quarter, the 49ers seemed to be firmly in control with a 20-10 lead. For those keeping score at home, that’s the last half of the last quarter of the game. What happened? Well, the Niners didn’t score another point, while the Chiefs went on a 21-0 run. As long as there’s time on the clock, you can still win. Until the game is over, you can still win. If it means something to you—if it’s important—don’t quit.
3. Finish Strong
Up until the very end of the game, Patrick Mahomes could be seen on the sidelines shouting, “Finish this game!” It was unbelievable, really. He never took his foot off the gas. Sometimes, it can be just as hard (if not harder) to avoid complacency when things are going your way. Patrick Mahomes, in reminding his teammates to finish the game, knew this. It was this attitude that ensured his team would win. In life, when things are going well, we need to remember to finish strong, lest the tides turn.
4. Block Out The Noise
You know when the Chiefs were down 10-20 with 7:23 remaining in the game? Well, according to ESPN’s Gamecast, the 49ers had a 95.4% win probability at this point. I turned to my dad and said, “It’s not looking too good for the Chiefs.” How many other commentators, or armchair quarterbacks were thinking the same thing? How many people thought, “The Chiefs are done,” or something similar? Well, to paraphrase The Rock, it doesn’t matter how many people thought the Chiefs were done. The Chiefs didn’t think they were done.
In life, things get hard. People doubt us. The odds can be stacked against us. It’s so easy to get consumed by all that noise and stop believing in ourselves.
The sad thing is, it doesn’t even take millions of people or a 95% chance of failure to keep us from persevering. Sometimes, what one person thinks or one small setback is all it takes to derail us. Forget that. Forget the odds. Forget the naysayers. Block out the noise.
5. Stay Humble And Remember Your Team
When game-winning head coach, Andy Reid, was interviewed after the game about finally winning the Super Bowl, you know what he did? He said the win was for all the players and coaches. Oh, and not just those from this year’s team—from all his teams.
In that moment, he could have made it about himself. No one would have begrudged him that. But, true to character, he shouted out the rest of his winning Chiefs team, as well as all the other teams that didn’t take home the big prize.
He realized that standing on that field as a Super Bowl champion was not an isolated achievement.
It took years of hard work and resilience; hours of collaboration and teamwork. So, after having just won the Super Bowl, he stayed humble and remembered his team.
Sometimes, I like watching sports for the game’s sake. But I’d imagine what keeps me as invested in them as I’ve been for over thirty years is what they can teach us about the people we hope to be, and how to live our lives.
This year’s Super Bowl did just that.