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Mental Health Lessons From the Losing Super Bowl Team

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I can’t pretend to be a football fan, but unfortunately, for me, there’s no getting away from the Super Bowl. And even though I’m not a football fan, criteria for being a Western New Yorker involves a healthy hatred for Tom Brady. So, last Sunday I was a Kansas City fan.

For the Chiefs, the fourth quarter was, in professional terms, “really super bad.” There might be stories about coming back from being down 22 points, but, again, not a football fan, so I’m not aware of any of them. (Except, of course, the greatest comeback of all time, by our Buffalo Bills in 1993). But the Bills weren’t in the Super Bowl last Sunday. At that point in the fourth quarter, I felt really super terrible for the Chiefs. What could have been going through their heads? How did they even muster up the motivation to keep going?

If it were me, self-hatred would have struck. I would have had to battle with the players on the other team, sure, but the battle in my head would have been even more ferocious. “You suck!” “You’re the worst player ever!” “How is Tom Brady so much better than you?” “You’ll never be like Tom Brady?” “Why do I even bother?”

Soon I would have been lying on the 50-yard line, and not because I was tackled. There would have been sobbing and possibly some good old-fashioned tantrumming. I would have just given up.

One thing I learned from the Super Bowl (besides how to lie about eating Cheetos) is what I took from Patrick Mahomes and his team: persistence. I did not see a single member of that team give up before the game was over.

Persistence motivated them to keep playing in spite of the score. Persistence led them to shake their opponent’s hands. Persistence allowed them to act like classy contest losers, rather than running off the field in a sulk. Persistence will help them speak to reporters and fans about their loss, and persistence will get them through their off season workouts. Persistence will lead them back onto the field in the fall.

I have never suffered such a public loss or test of my grit. That being said, I’m sure I speak for many of you who struggle with your emotions that one thing that we maybe don’t give ourselves credit for is our persistence. Did you come to work even though you’d much rather be in bed with the covers over your head? Did you stay sober during the Super Bowl even though every other commercial was for beer? Have you pushed through a loss of a family member and managed to laugh once today? Did you get out of bed? Are you still breathing because you are stubborn and you have hope, even though a little voice in your head insists differently? You’re persistent. You’re determined. You have a little Super Bowl superstardom in you today.

I’m taking strength and inspiration from that Chiefs loss. I can push through barriers today, because not giving up is amazing.

Getty image via FotografieLink

Originally published: February 16, 2021
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