The Best Game I’ve Ever Played In
As athletes, we like to say we’ve moved on entirely from losses, pouring focus into next season. Often, that’s not true. Every once in a while, while I’ve been traveling this summer or working out or spending time with my family, I think about that NFC Championship Game against Seattle—the one Richard Sherman correctly described as the real Super Bowl.
A few things I remember:
- I’ve never sweated so much in a football game.
- I’ve never heard so much trash talk in a football game.
- I’ve never been more optimistic that we were going to get the job done as I was on that last drive.
You know what happened, of course; Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick’s end zone attempt to Michael Crabtree, turning it into a game-winning interception. Kudos to the Seahawks, who won a Super Bowl with a defense that isn’t as simple as the players like to boast. I don’t know how they went about trying to stop the rest of their opponents, but they spent a lot of effort mixing up coverages against us.
But that’s not what stands out to me about that game. I think about the final play, and all the talk that followed it. Did Kaepernick make a bad throw, or a bad decision? Is Sherman lucky or good? My answers: Sherman is good. And Kaepernick made the right call, no matter the outcome. He took a shot. He put his trust in his No. 1 receiver. Sometimes they make the plays, sometimes they don’t. But in those moments you have to have faith that your guy is going to pull it down.
It was, and remains, a devastating finish. But I think it made Crabtree and Kaepernick stronger. Anytime you fall into a situation where stuff doesn’t go the way you expected, where you know you should’ve made a play but you didn’t, it makes you go correct it. With experience comes growth.
It’s exhausting to make it two years in a row and not finish. I hope my younger teammates realize that you can’t take the opportunity for granted. Whenever you get to play in a Super Bowl or a championship game, you have to win because you might not ever get it again. The window of opportunity is as small as a pea. Teams start to break up, players get old. You just have to seize the moment.
Going forward, we have to hold each other accountable and grow closer as a team. We have to love each other. We’ve got to develop better trust between the receivers and the QB. We need to lean on our coaches for knowledge and get every ounce that they have. If we can do that, we’ll get over the hump.
Travel Note of the Week
I spent last weekend in Park City, Utah, as a guest at the Lululemon retreat. I don’t have a beer or food note, as I kept it simple with water and chicken, but I do recommend the area highly. The atmosphere is warm and the sights are beautiful. If you ever find yourself in Park City in the summer, with the opportunity to ski down a ramp and into a giant swimming pool, take it.