Super Bowl XXXVI will, and should be, long remembered.
With Sunday's win in New Orleans, the New England Patriots captured the first championship in their 42-year existence, and that is but one of many compelling stories that played out this season.
The Patriots starting quarterback and franchise player, Drew Bledsoe, was knocked out in week two. In steps second year man Tom Brady, a guy who spent most of his rookie year inactive as the Patriots' fourth-string quarterback.
All he does is help the team win 14 of its next 17 games, then he wins the Super MVP, and he is now headed to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.
Next, there is the story of Joe Andruzzi. The fourth-year offensive guard has three brothers who were at ground zero, fighting to save lives as NYC firefighters. One of those brothers came within seconds of losing his life as one of the towers came crashing down.
Or, what about Troy Brown's emergence as a star?
Brown, who hails from Blackville-Hilda High School, had always played in the shadow of superstar Terry Glenn, until this season anyway. Glenn was suspended from the team for the entire season for an assortment of rule violations.
Glenn had missed practices, been late to meetings, and been a first-class jerk. Not to mention his run-ins with the police in the off-season. Patriots coach Bill Belichick did something most coaches wouldn't dare to do. He told his star player to take a hike.
Add all this to the fact that they are the Patriots. Our country is still reeling from the September 11 attacks and perhaps the fact that in three Super Bowl appearances, New England has worn red (1986), white (1997), and blue (this season). It was like they had the entire county behind them.
Now, all of these are great stories, but I had a much better reason why we should be glad New England was victorious. Teamwork!
This team was the epitome of unity. The whole Brady-Bledsoe quarterback controversy would have torn this team apart had Brady not been such a consummate team player.
The Pats really have no superstars on their roster. And in the ultimate show of solidarity, they ran out onto the field together Sunday at the Superdome.
Of course, the tradition is to announce the starters and then have the remainder of the team run out of the tunnel. However, the Patriots came up with the idea of coming out all at once. What a great thing for our young people to see.
And finally, when Adam Vinateri's 48-yard field goal sailed through the uprights, New England had knocked off the heavily favored St. Louis Rams. It was simply another tremendous moment that sports has provided us.
In this time of sky-rocketing player salaries and ticket prices, taunting and showboating, and the me, me, me mentality, I must admit that I felt it was great for all our young athletes to see a group of guys put team goals first and to overcome what everyone felt was insurmountable odds to achieve the ultimate goal in football...to become Super Bowl champions.
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