Just the Other Day: SB LII

There were snarls, shouts of joy, complaints, celebrations, heart-breaks and swells of pride; there were plenty of cheers…and tears.


Sunday’s football games decided who will play in Super Bowl LII. The Philadelphia Eagles will meet the New England Patriots in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Football smack” is already being talked!


Tom Brady. People love him or they despise him. You can’t deny his athleticism. With five championship rings, he already has more than any other NFL quarterback.


The Pittsburgh Steelers have the most SB victories with six wins. Seven different teams have claimed back-to-back championship titles, but only the Steelers have done so twice.


With a win on Super Bowl Sunday, the Patriots would tie the record for the most SB wins. They could also become only the second team to accomplish two, back-to-back championship victories. Another win would give Tom Brady more SB rings than any QB in history…but he already has the most.


Remember the Brady bunch? It used to be Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! Now, it’s Tom, Tom, Tom! All these stats boggle my mind and make my head spin!


I picked up my cup of coffee and reflected on a September day toward the beginning of this football season. I had been on the road traveling, and stopped at McDonald’s to grab a bite to eat, get a cup of joe, and use their Wi-Fi.


I sat at the long counter with the high bar stools; a table meant for multiple people, not necessarily folks who were together. It’s like community seating.


At the end of the counter, a large screen TV was hanging on the wall. They were airing one of those morning magazine shows. A movie star was being interviewed; babbling over something I didn’t care about, so their conversation was just background noise, disturbing me as I worked on my tablet.


Two men, both older than me, came to sit at the table. The first was a rather large man carrying three containers, each with a pancake and sausage breakfast inside. The other man was quite tall and lean, almost slender. He was carrying two large coffees. Together they sat on the opposite side at the far end of the counter. With two stools between them, the tall guy was sitting kitty-corner from me.


The big guy set two of the breakfasts to the side, toward the other man, then removed the plastic lid and dug into the first. The other man sat down, turning his seat toward the television. He removed the lid from his coffee. Before taking a sip, he puckered his lips as if he were going to whistle. He blew gently over the hot beverage, whisking the steam away, like the breeze carrying the smoke from a stack. He drew in a taste, then sighed. The coffee was good.


The lady hosting the TV show announced, “In our next segment, superhero, NFL quarterback Tom Brady will join us…woo-hoo!” She began clapping. “You don’t want to miss Tom, so stayed tuned, we’ll be right back.”


The audience cheered. The man took another sip of his coffee. I thought to myself, “The Brady’s – Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Tom, Tom, Tom!” Ugh! And the big guy took the lid off the second breakfast container.


After the commercials, when the show came back on, the tall man seemed to be watching intensely. The crowd went wild again, when the host introduced Tom Brady. She showered him with praises for all of his accomplishments, then changed the subject.


Brady seemed more like a normal guy in this interview; a regular human being – not acting like a jock. He was there to promote his new book, “The Tb12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance.” Tb12? That was the first time I’d heard that title.


Brady began talking about his book. He reminded me of a snake oil salesman standing on a platform in front of his buckboard wagon. With a big advertising sign painted on the high wooden sides, he was touting the wonders of his miracle elixir. ‘Twas a tonic that would cure all, for everyone; no matter your ailment, no matter your age.


From hair loss, to whooping cough, arthritis to wrinkles. His new potion was good for much more than just healing a rattler’s bite – this concoction was the answer to all illness – a cure for every condition. “Guaranteed to work after 30 days use.” He promised, “Or your money gladly refunded.” Of course, knowing he would be gone in a couple of days he cried, “Ladies and gentlemen, step right up to get your years supply before it’s gone!”


The biggest difference between the two men: The pitchman held his own bottle up in the air for all to see. The talk show host, who looked like one of Bob Barker’s girls on The Price Is Right, presented Brady’s book.


When Brady’s pitch was done, the host wished him much success for the remainder of the season. She clapped her hands high in the air, “Tom Brady, everyone!” The crowd cheered. Brady stood there blushing while she said, “Coming up next…” I closed my iPad.


I walked around the table. “That Tom Brady sure is something, isn’t he?” I said to the taller man. “He certainly has a following.” He replied. “He’s broken a lot of records already,” I said. The man added, “And at forty years old, he’s not done yet. I think he’s still got a few years left in him” “Yep.” I agreed, then questioned, “But is he a hero?” “A lot of people think so.” The man replied with a chuckle.


I nodded upward toward the man’s hat, which I had noticed as soon as he came to the table. “You served in Vietnam?” I asked. He almost seemed a bit defensive when he answered, “Yes I did. What about it?”


He was looking me right square in the eyes, leaning a bit my way, when I answered him. “You know, regardless of how many years he plays, and no matter how many records he breaks, Tom Brady can’t play football long enough to match your status. He is good, but he will never be a hero such as yourself. I just needed to tell you that.”


The man relaxed and blushed, “Well I don’t know about all that…” He said. I interrupted, “I do. You are a hero in my book, and I thank you for your service.”


I extended my hand toward him. He took my hand in his right hand, placing his left hand over mine, and said, “Thank you.” He sounded a bit choked up when he repeated, “Thank you.” I smiled and sincerely wished him a good day.


As I was turning away, the big guy looked up from his third helping of pancakes. “Is that punk giving you crap, Chuck?” He asked. Chuck answered, “No, Bobby. Everything is okay. It’s all good, Bobby.” I continued to the front door.


I smile whenever I recall that day, especially Chuck and Bobby.


And so, Super Bowl Sunday will be here before we know it. Between now and then, there will be a lot of football trash-talking among the fans. Odds will be set and bets will be placed. Critics and experts will compare and analyze the teams to death making your head swim with facts, statistics – even superstitions. Far too many for a simpleton, such as myself, to absorb them all.


Still, I will get wrapped up with the masses, enjoying all the hoopla that comes with this annual spectacle. On that Sunday, one team will win, becoming the world champions, where the other team will be considered by many to be “the first place losers.” It’s all about the ring – nothing else matters.


The week following, people will talk about the game. If the Eagles win, fans will declare, “They’ve paid their dues. They earned the victory!” If the Patriots win, some will declare, “Brady cheated.” Other will still be debating over which commercial was the best. All in all, we’ll see good sports, and poor sports, emerge from this day.


Soon enough, spring will come and baseball will start. People talking baseball will try to recall, “Who won the Super Bowl this year?” Except for the fans of the victorious team. They will know.


Life will go on.


Win or lose, “Tb12” will statistically be the greatest quarterback every to play the game…until a younger man starts breaking his records.


Stats, highlights and recounts of the game will be recorded in the books, to be argued in the future over a beer, by sports fans in a pub somewhere.


For me, SB LII will be just what it is – entertainment. Nothing more and nothing less. And Chuck? He will forever be a hero, in my book.