Some years it is hard to watch the Super Bowl. This year was, for many, a struggle to decide who to support. (For Dallas Cowboy fans, which team turns your stomach less–Eagles or Patriots? It’s a coin toss.)
Super Bowl LII gave me something to watch that was better than football. It was a game all about backups.
The Eagles won, supported by three backups.
The first was the coach Doug Pederson. Pederson played in the NFL at the position of quarterback. His problem was he played “backup.” He was number 2 to Dan Marino at Miami, behind Bernie Kosar with the Browns, and warmed the bench watching Brett Favre in Green Bay. He had retired from football in 2010 to coach high school football in Louisiana.
The second backup was Nick Foles. Foles made his way around three teams in the NFL. None gave him much of an opportunity to play. He considered walking away from football.
Then came a call from the Philadelphia Eagles. They needed a backup quarterback to their first-round golden boy Carson Wentz. He found himself a sideline roamer until…Wentz cratered his knee during the championship run against the Los Angeles Rams.
Now it was his turn. After a couple of tough games, pundits doubted his ability. Then, in the playoffs, he showed his stuff. He played to a level where he became the MVP of the Super Bowl. Remember, Foles was the number 2 quarterback, not the star.
The third was Carson Wentz himself. He was destined to lead the team to the Super Bowl. His season was stellar, and his career was skyrocketing. Then, after after a blow to the knee in LA, his season was over. He had to stand on the sidelines and watch.
Some find themselves in that position seething with resentment. Not Wentz.
One of the great memories of Super Bowl LII was Wentz standing on the sidelines in an Eagles baseball cap cheering his understudy. It takes grace and a big heart to cheer on someone when you should have been the one in the spotlight.
It takes more character to be a backup than a star. For Pederson and Foles, they patiently did their jobs. They kept their attitudes right. They continued to work hard. Years passed before the Lombardi Trophy bore their fingerprints.
For Wentz, he gave up his glory for the greater good of their team. Many have ego while few have character.
Not one of those backups blew their own horn or touted their greatness. They played with a team.
Genuine winners give up themselves for something beyond themselves. They empty their egos and do what is best.
That is the best definition of a champion.