SPORTS OPINION: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”

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Jim Purdue | Guest Columnist 

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

This is a quote I’ve heard over the years attributed to Vince Lombardi, the great Green Bay Packers’ coach, winner of the first two Super Bowls. I never agreed with this statement and have always thought the journey is just as important as the destination, maybe more so.

Recently, I read where Lombardi, nearing the end of his life, said he wished he never made the statement, saying, “I wished I’d never said the thing…I meant the effort. I meant having a goal. I sure didn’t mean for people to crush human values and morality.” I also read that he meant to say, “Winning isn’t everything, but the desire to win is.” He also said that perfection will never be attained, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence. Another quote, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” This is the guy whom the Superbowl trophy is named after, in his honor. I have a newfound respect for him. A comment I hear from some coaches and players is, no one remembers the team that lost the Superbowl. Maybe I’m the oddball, but I remember the Bills going to four straight Superbowls, losing all four. I don’t think any other team has accomplished that. It’s too bad that they didn’t win at least one. I remember how well the Falcons played against the Patriots, losing in overtime. I remember how close the Niners came to beating the Ravens in the Superbowl just a few years ago. I remember how close Seattle was to beating the Patriots with time running out. Butler’s interception won it for the Pats. When I hear a player or coach say that, it makes me feel that for them, getting to the Superbowl means nothing if they don’t win, that the journey has no value. What a feat it is to get there, win or lose. How hard is it to get through the playoffs and make it to the Superbowl? Ask Drew Brees, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rogers. It’s tough. 

Soon two teams will be battling it out to hold the Lombardi trophy in outstretched hands, claiming themselves as Superbowl champions. I’m sure both teams have the desire to win. They wouldn’t have gotten this far without that intense desire to win. Will the game be a chess match between two good coaches? Coach Kyle Shanahan is in his third year as a head coach and the Chiefs Coach Andy Reid has been around for what seems like most of my adult life. Both are great play callers so I expect both offenses to have some level of success, but the 49ers defense, especially getting a couple of key players back from injury, may very well make for a long day for Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The 49ers know what it’s like to try and stop a mobile quarterback, playing both the Seahawks and the Cardinals twice during the regular season. They know it won’t be easy. Mahomes makes some crazy plays that most quarterbacks wouldn’t or can’t. He’s fun to watch. His legs might make up for a so-so running game. Some say Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t a great QB, he’s a question mark. As a kid I can remember watching the Chiefs’ Len Dawson, a good QB. Bart Star, a very good QB. Roger Staubach, a good QB. Johnny Unitas, a very good QB. Those teams, the Chiefs, the Packers, the Cowboys, and the Colts all had good quarterbacks, but they were great teams. Look what the Titans were able to do once Tannehill, a good quarterback, came over from Miami. Jimmy G. may be a good quarterback on a great team. I think the 49ers defense is better than the Chiefs, and their run game is better, but I don’t think there is any better quarterback than Patrick Mahomes. Jimmy Garoppolo showed everyone in the Saints game that he is capable of keeping up with a very good quarterback. Can he do it again? Or will it be Mahomes magic that wins it for the Chiefs?

So, who do I root for? I grew up in the KC area. The Chiefs were the first NFL team I watched on TV with my mom and dad. They had a great team back then, went to the first Superbowl, lost to the Packers. I think it was their fourth Superbowl that the Chiefs won against the Vikings. After moving to California in the 70s and a guy named Joe Montana came along, I watched as many Niner games as I could. Never went to Candlestick to watch the 49ers when I had the chance, but always felt I could see what’s happening on the field better on TV. I still feel that way. So, I guess I’ll hope for a good game, and I’m sure I’ll remember who loses Superbowl LIV. For those of you, like me, that have a hard time with roman numerals, it’s Superbowl 54. Whatever the outcome, I’ll remember that two of my favorite teams played each other in the Superbowl.

P.S. For those Raider fans out there, let’s hope John Gruden knows what he’s doing.■

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