Okay. The day-after handwringing and backseat quarterbacking are finito. The Saints and the Dolphins are painful, even embarrassing, memories; the Panthers, smelling fresh blood, lurk in the shadows, ready to pounce.
So what’s this Coach, this purported guru-of-the-decade, to do? What words might erase the near past and re-motivate, re-inspire, and, yes, re-imbue the team with confidence? If I were he – which I assuredly am NOT (shockingly I don’t possess a single Super Bowl ring, much less three) – here’s what I’d say to the boys:
“‘There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.’
“I don’t often quote Shakespeare in the locker room so you might be confused. Hey Coach, you might say: You’re telling us to ‘go with the flow’ and lately that flow has totally sucked. We’ve just had the first two back-to-back losses since the 2006 season! We got humiliated by those Patriot-wannabe Saints in front of a huge TV audience and then let the Fish get away! We haven’t won an away game all season and suddenly the division, which was OURS, is wide open! The enemy is at the gate!
“But I say to you: Shakespeare is right on (he generally is.) What is this tide of which he speaks? It is ADVERSITY! Embrace it and we will travel on to fortune. Deny it and the journey of this season will end up in shallows and misery and we’ll be home by Christmas.
“The tide of our ADVERSITY has risen (although if Special Teams and Defense don’t get their acts together and if Brady doesn’t stop with the interceptions, things could get a lot worse). Shakespeare doesn’t say, allow it to take you at the flood – he says you take it! So, how do we accept our adversity and in doing so, turn its dross into gold and more Super Bowl bling?
“I’ll tell you how. Hold up the mirror of adversity and let it show you who you are. Gaze deeply into your reflection and accept your screw-ups while recognizing your strengths, your talents, and above all, your spirit. In times of adversity, men step up or they step down (cheerleaders, too). If you let these hard times chasten you, in the process they will brace you and free you.
“A champion isn’t defined by what’s on his finger but what’s in his heart. On Sunday, go out there and play the game. Play it like you’ve never played it before. Play fearlessly and joyfully. Play it like you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Seize that tide at the flood and ride it to fortune’s end zone!”