The calm before the game

I still can't believe the Patriots won the Super Bowl. The team I root for never wins, never ever ever ever ever. Sometimes the team I want to lose loses (see Yankees vs. Diamondbacks 2001 World Series) but the team I want to win never wins. Not since the 80's, since the great years of the Celtics (DJ and Ainge, Bird, Parish and McHale, man oh man…), has my team won. Until yesterday. I was on the edge of my seat until the very end, knowing (as only a New England fan can) that until that clock ran out, anything was possible. The Rams comeback was no surprise to me, the fact that NE actually pulled off the win still is.

Apparently NE quarterback Tom Brady was so calm before the game, he took a nap in the locker room. If I'd known this during the game, I might have relaxed my guard a little. A nap? That's confidence, and it reminded me of all the sporting events I've been involved with, and the only time I really won anything big. Usually before an important event (high school soccer play-offs and ski team races for state championships, Head of the Charles, New England Collegiate Championships for rowing), I'd be filled with an aching, intense, anxiety. Full of hope but scared, I'd just say to myself, "I hope we can do it. I think we can do it. Jeez, it would be great to win." Only once was it different.

Tufts Crew, Spring 1992. I was rowing in the 2nd varsity boat, and we'd had one loss all spring. We got to the New England championships and that morning, before our preliminary heat, I was walking around with the strangest sense of calm I've ever experienced before a sporting event — I just knew we were going to win. I wasn't nervous, I wasn't anxious, I wasn't even impatient to row, because I knew how it was going to turn out.

We went out and rowed perfectly in our heat, beating the team we'd lost to earlier in the season by a hefty margin. Then in the afternoon, we went out and rowed again. It was a close final and in the last 500 meters we were dead even with one other crew. But we poured it on and pulled away, just like I'd known we would, and we took home gold medals. I've never felt that level of confidence again. I can't help but wonder if Tom Brady felt something similar yesterday afternoon as he took a nap before the biggest game of his career. I think Brady just knew they were going to win the game.