Driving home to Boston from Long Island after a wedding at 1:00 AM has its advantages and disadvantages. Of course being tired, having to drive with the window down from Route 84 onward, and fearing for your life while dozing off aren’t too positive, but you are able to do a lot of thinking and pondering while moseying on through that 150 mile stretch of dead space people call Connecticut. I drove by the Storrs, Connecticut exit which is home to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion UConn Huskies. I saw the sign that mentioned them as champions. Champion is one word that gets thrown around far too much now a days. Everyone is the champion of something or some place or some league. The definition of a champion goes far deeper than being at the top of the podium, or looking down on the other teams in the standings at year end, or even the ones who hoist up the “championship” trophy at the end of the season. Being a champion consists of so much more and not many athletes, coaches, owners, etc embody it the way a certain few do.
I was told at a young age when doing judo, that winning consists of many elements. Now as a young kid I didn’t understand it and what is scary is now people my age and older still think Charlie Sheen is “winning”. This guy is a washed up TV actor, with multiple kids, and marriages with a serious drug problem. That my friend’s is not winning. Winning comes from leadership, excellence, confidence, discipline, respect, perseverance, goal setting, and modesty. Many athletes are great at excelling, but their character completely over shadows anything they accomplish on the field. Look at Lebron James, he is one of the best players in the NBA, and he is finally now starting to show some of these other traits that make up a champion. I can think of handful of others right off the top who are piss poor role models whom are self proclaimed champions, Desean Jackson, Santonio Holmes, Albert Haynesworth, Plaxico Burress, the list goes on and on. On the flip side we have some amazing players who are the spitting image of a champion, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant, Aaron Rodgers, and even Adrian Peterson. Granted Adrian hasn’t won anything yet outside of some individual awards, but he goes about his business, there is no showboating, and just an all around great person/athlete. Much like Larry Fitzgerald, he is the same way. I bring this back to Patriot Nation and our draft. Bill wants to draft football players who love to play and love to win.
Winning isn’t a sometime thing, it isn’t a when you feel like it kind of thing, it is an all the time thing. It starts when you wake up, lift those weights, do those runs, sprints and hill climbs. Winning are those workouts you have to drag yourself to or practice you don’t feel like getting off of the couch for. Winning is being a sportsman and being classy both on and off the playing field. Winning is handing the ball to the ref after a touchdown or shaking an opponent’s hand after the game. Winning is striving to outdo your last results and always raising the bar, and never settling for mediocrity. I think we as a society have become too comfortable with being average. Sometimes it takes seeing others succeed, us failing, or having other champions that we are surrounded with motivate us to excel to hit that extra level we didn’t think was possible. The Patriots as a team have a mixture of each of those players. We have the classic underachievers, whom we ask why they even dress each week. There are those workmen like players who show up each week and do their job. Then there are the champions, the guys we know are giving 1000% percent each week that embody what being a Patriot and a winner is all about.
Now if we can only get the actual “leaders” of this lockout to start acting like champions, we might have some actual football stories to talk about.