The Super Bowl is around the corner, and yet another team will reach greatness. All they’ve worked for, from Pop Warner to now, will boil down to 60 minutes of hard work to make their wildest dreams come true.
After the NFC Championship game that led to this moment, something stood out to me. While we were all talking about Richard Sherman’s outburst and the fact that Pam Oliver allowed a blind hairdresser on prison work release to handle her weave, something prolific got lost in the mix.
The losing 49ers coach, Jim Harbaugh, stood with Pam outside of the locker room for a quick post game interview. He had tasted a chance at greatness last season, when they lost in the Super Bowl, which was just one step further than the 2011 season, in which his team lost in the NFC Championship game. So for the third year straight of coming so close, yet so far, Jim Harbaugh had to stand in front of the camera and tell the world how he felt. He looked disappointed, but just as resolute as ever. When Pam asked the obligatory postgame questions, he offered a quote that struck a chord with me.
“A man can be destroyed, but he can’t be defeated,” he said.
I didn’t check, but if I had done a Twitter search, I’m sure at least a dozen people responded with something along the lines of: You got tha quote backward dumass. #readabooklately? #losersgohome #GoSeaHawks #LOB
But if you think about what he’s saying, it wasn’t backwards at all, and is a mantra that we could all take something from. Pam didn’t help much, as she looked at him with a deer in the headlights look and just asked “Is that a quote?”
Bad hair day reporting aside, the quote resonated with me. It’s actually an Ernest Hemingway quote, and one Harbaugh also used after getting knocked out by the Giants in his first NFC Championship game as the Niners coach.
You might have the capability to destroy me… Beat me in a game, fire me from a job, put a gun to my head and fire off all 15, knock me out in front of my wife, kids and grandkids, but you will NEVER defeat me.
You won’t take my pride. You won’t take my dignity. You won’t take my manhood. You won’t take my fighting spirit. You won’t take my tenacity. You won’t make me doubt myself as a human.
If my spirit drifts off to another plane somewhere, I’ll be floating and looking down at you with two Stone Cold Steve Austin middle fingers, saying that I won’t lose and I’m still better than you.
It made me think about my favorite ESPN 30 for 30 film, Winning Time, about Reggie Miller and his battle to beat the New York Knicks in the playoffs after always being bested by them. Before he ever thought about hitting game winning shots and grabbing his nuts in front of Spike Lee, he was getting beat down in the back yard by his big sister Cheryl, the greatest female to ever touch a basketball. Anyone who grows up with siblings knows that you learn how to play by taking your lumps and constantly losing in the back yard.
Well, Reggie was losing to his sister, a girl, and I’m sure that didn’t feel good.
Of course, she wasn’t just a girl, she was a raw athlete who put up 100 points in a high school game, but you can’t explain that logic to the ego.
In the documentary, Cheryl said she would be dusting the court with him, not letting him score a point, and the entire time, Reggie would NOT stop running his mouth. Fast forward to his NBA days, and anyone who watched basketball knew that Reggie Miller did NOT stop running his mouth, but he’d also shoot your eyes out. I hated him back in the day, but when it’s all said and done, I respect him more than almost any NBA player in history, because dude had that much heart.
He only got that way because even when his sister was destroying him, she was never able to defeat him. Neither were the New York Knicks.
With a Hall of Fame basketball career in the books, millions in the bank and a job on TV providing basketball analysis, it’s a good thing that he never let life defeat him.
I’m sure nobody reading this is playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday, but we put it all on the line every day just to get what we want out of life. We’ve all taken L’s and will continue to do so, but bouncing back from them is the mark of a true champ.