Intangible is a Misunderstood Concept

Steve Grogan & R.R. Marshall
February 9, 2002 at 3:42 pm ET

This is my 4th submission to this website. In the midst of glory, I pop on the scene and predict great things. Generally I’m the guy trying to jump-start a bandwagon that has trouble moving. Wow, what a luxury to hop on one screaming towards the finish line.

It’s time to introduce myself and tell you why I’m here. After 80 or so weekly opinion columns for a New Hampshire daily, my words were cancelled, virtually in mid-sentence. The one I’d already submitted they declined to use and it just happened to be about the Patriots. It was a waste not to use it. I know Ian, this is fun and we will see where it leads.

Funny thing is it was easier to write last week’s entry (Super Bowl Will Go Down To The Wire) because all I had to do was predict what most of us already knew without a doubt; the Patriots were somehow going to beat an excellent football team.

Sure we could have lost. Sometimes bullets ricochet and can’t be dodged. Late in the game the Rams sent one straight at our hearts but on the wings of Tommy Brady we flew past it unscathed. Harry Potter’s world is not the only place where quidditch, Rollerball on broomsticks, and the ultimate team game, is played.
It would have been a crime against justice if a game that wasn’t even remotely close until the very end, went into overtime where we could’ve lost it on a coin flip. Statistics are often ridiculous. In every aspect of this game, we beat a solid football team with superior individual skills.

Sometimes that gets in the way. In the not so unlikely event all else failed, the Rams backup plan counted upon the individual skills of their outstanding players to break things wide open.

In the regular season their relentless onslaught, sloppy with turnovers, was still way too good for most teams. Hey, their players are relaxed, confident, focused and play hard. They were better than us the first time but not by much.

Meanwhile, they were very lucky to escape with their lives against the Giants. Then the Eagles gave them all they could handle and watching those games it was crystal clear they weren’t going to blow us away.

Intangible is a misunderstood concept. Just because it can’t be seen or touched doesn’t mean it’s not real. In fact, that’s its strength.

Sportswriters and odds makers don’t get it. They believe players not chemistry put points on the board. But chemistry is life in the fastest lane. It’s what’s makes teams winners.

I lived in Miami in 1972 and saw what it did for the undefeated Dolphins. An announcing gig for half time shows found me on the sidelines for a couple of those games.

Smash mouth football are only words but seeing, hearing and just about feeling it on ground zero increased my respect a thousand fold for what players go through on every play. It revealed how excruciatingly close failure is to success.

They too were “lucky.” A few times they escaped from the depths of hell. Their no-name defense made unbelievable plays and a few questionable calls along the way also helped.

In Belichick’s domain, just as the 72 Dolphins, the high-powered mix of skill, pride and ego take a back seat to the team. For as long as Belichick can maintain his forceful, humble, down to earth persona, and perpetuate the brilliant truth that all Patriots are created equal, and get some good football players to back it up, life will be very good indeed.

Chemistry’s magic. Throw a few things into a beaker and something entirely different emerges. Understanding its combinations are Bill Belichick’s hard-earned talent that some mistake for genius. It’s got less to do with being brilliant or personable and more about setting selfless examples of hard work, extreme competence, and decency.

This is an amazing season. Last week Kurt Warner and I actually had one thing in common. We were talking about different teams but both of us were using the D word “Dynasty”. I was able to hedge my bet; even in the unlikely event we lost this game we’re still on the verge. Kurt can’t think that way.

Kurt also doesn’t know the recipe for predicting the future. It’s equal parts of myopia and wishful thinking. Then a set of blinders to eliminate possible distractions and a thick skin for those who take themselves too seriously.

Like a soufflé this is a recipe that can’t be tampered with and Kurt’s ego ruined the dish. His mind was in dreamland. Problem is daydreaming floats over roadblocks that have more substance in real life.

Enjoy the off-season Kurt and the rest of you Rams. Wait ’til next year. Oh boy does that feel good to say.

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