Secretariat and the Super Bowl . . .
While waiting for the Super Bowl hype shows to blow over, I came upon a movie playing on TV in the afternoon, “Secretariat” starring Diane Lane and John Malkovitch as the trainer who she believed in, even if he didn’t believe in himself. It’s a tale of long odds, if you’ve seen this film: Penny Tweedy takes over her ailing father’s thoroughbred breeding farm and wins Secretariat as a colt in a coin toss by default. Her father dies and her husband plus brother connive to sell Secretariat to pay death taxes on the farm. She refuses, deciding to syndicate Secretariat’s breeding rights ($190,000) to thirty-two other owners, all of whom refuse her until the most prestigious owner of all, who gave up the colt at the coin toss (yes, it’s all true) decides to be the first to sign up. The others follow and Secretariat promptly loses his first big race due to an abcessed tooth.
Secretariat goes on to win the Triple Crown, the first time in 25 years, setting track records in EACH race that are still standing. It’s truly an amazing story. That it actually happened is sports history.
So, now we are down to watching the Super Bowl game and to see if this much maligned team can win their first Super bowl game in ten years. Yes, they’ve won divisional championships. Yes, they’ve gone to the Super Bowl in between years and lost, sometimes ignominiously (like the time Brady fouled in the first play of the game the last time.)
The Seahawks are defending their Super Bowl win last year. There’s been so much hype about the two coaches, Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, both of whom have coached for the Patriots and Bob Kraft. And both, it turns out, are part-Croatian! Who knew? Plus they’re supposed to be crafty coaches with sophisticated knowledge of the rules so that they know what they can try even though nobody else may have.
Well, here we are. I’m finishing this post at 11:16 p.m. after a Super Bowl win by the Patriots that will go down with the ages as one of the most unbelievably tight and suspenseful victories of almost all time. After all, who could make up a last minute interception over the goal line by Malcolm Butler, a rookie from Alabama playing his first Super Bowl game? In his interview afterwards, he was asked about the three-bobble catch that the Seahawks made improbably while the guy was on his back and the ball was still bouncing around in the air. Butler said he thought he felt that because he didn’t prevent that catch, that he might be responsible for losing the game–and that he HAD to do something during the next play: which he did, by intercepting the ball in the Seahawk’s endzone. The last 30 seconds of the game were the longest ones ever after Butler’s interception: a half yard from the goal-line moved five yards out due to a penalty, then fifteen yards out due to fighting by a Seahawk who was ejected from the game for unnecessary roughing.
It was amazing. Chris Collinsworth, the most urbane of all TV sportscasters put together was sputtering through the last two minutes of the game. He kept saying, “I can’t believe this!” And the rest of us couldn’t either. What a relief! I’m glad that I was “wu-wei-ing” it throughout the game. In fact, I threw the I-Ching when the Pats were down in the fourth quarter and it felt like all was lost. It predicted that the Patriots would indeed win the Super Bowl in the end after a few hitches. And what an ending!
This Patriots Super Bowl victory was as unpredictable as Secretariat’s winning of the Triple Crown years ago with a thirty length win over the second horse at Belmont stakes. Big risks, a lot on the line and winning at the finish line–making exceptional sports history for a long time to come.
Bravo! Whew! I’m going to bed!