If you ask me, the Eagles Super Bowl win against the New England Patriots is a lesson for all of us.
Even I, a fair-weather football fan, am excited. As I was leaving for work Monday morning the news conference with the Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles flashed on the TV. I stopped to watch.
You never know, there may be something fashionable worth writing about.
Although I do think Foles’ fitted Super Bowl 52 zip-up will be a city must-have by spring — I sure as heck want one — I was more impressed with his answers to the news conference inquiries. No, I don’t play football. No, I’m not a sports junkie. But Foles’ thoughtful answers were a lesson in mindfulness.
Regular readers of this column know that I’ve been trying to incorporate mindfulness — living in the moment, doing the best I can with what I’ve got, and being more focused on the process and not the outcome — into my way of life. As I watched the news conference, it immediately became clear to me how the Eagles managed to pull off their first Super Bowl on Sunday night. It wasn’t just by chance. Nor was it just by outscoring the Patriots. It began with the fact that they believed in themselves.
“They got to this moment by focusing on what was in front of them and taking it one step at a time,” said Paddy Steinfort. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and sports performance expert who has worked with the Eagles, Steinfort applies the power of positive psychology and Law of Attraction teachings to his coaching style. “They have been on the grind for years. They did everything they could up to this point and they enjoyed it.”
Here are some of the other takeaways that I think will help us in our journeys, whether we are pigskin devotees or not.
No one player is bigger than the team
Reporters asked questions urging Foles to compare himself to starting quarterback Carson Wentz. Foles didn’t take the bait. Instead, he focused his answer on the fact that he is a part of one unit. One organization. One mind. “I’m fortunate to be a part of a great team, great players, great coaching staff,” Foles said. “It wasn’t me. It was everyone around me. … The outcome was successful. We are world champs.”
Clearly, it wasn’t easy for Foles growing up. His dad, who now owns a chain of restaurants, didn’t graduate from high school and worked in kitchens. Throughout the postseason, Foles always thanked his 7-month-old daughter and wife for their unwavering support. Without them, he said, he wouldn’t be where he is today. Foles showed us his vulnerability through this season. And he’s grateful for his entire journey. “It’s about the moment where you can enjoy it,” Foles said. “The love, the joy of everything you do with one another, the support … That’s what it’s about.”
Live in the moment
Will Foles remain the backup quarterback when Wentz returns to the field next year? How does he feel about potentially sharing the turf? He’s not worried about that now, and by brushing off the anxiety about the future, he’s demonstrating how we can appreciate today. After all, nothing is promised. “I’m grateful and content in this moment,” Foles said. “I’m staying in the moment. I’m not worried about my future right now. There is a time and a place to handle that. I’m excited about Carson Wentz coming back healthy. I’m just living in the moment.”
Don’t be afraid to fail
Most of us know what it’s like to be paralyzed by the fear of failure. This is Foles’ second go-round with the Eagles, after a less-than-stellar performances during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. “In our society today, Instagram and Twitter is the highlight reel,” Foles said. “When you are having a rough day … you think you are failing. But failure is a part of life. It’s about building character and growing. I wouldn’t be up here if I didn’t fall thousands of times and make mistakes. … I’m not perfect. I’m not Superman. We might be in the NFL, but we still have our daily struggles. … When you look at a struggle in your life you [should] look at it as a time in your life for your character to grow. If something is going on and you are struggling, embrace it. You are growing.”
Finally, you have to believe
Most people didn’t think the Eagles could do it, especially after Wentz’s season-ending injury. But whether you like it or not, the lyrics (at least not the dirty ones) from Meek Mill’s Dreams and Nightmares (Intro) rang true: “I used to pray for times like this, to rhyme like this. / So I had to grind like that to shine like this,”
“This was about building the image in their mind’s eye,” Steinfort said. “What they did went beyond positive thinking. They dealt with the reality of what had to happen.” So when it was time to play the game, they were ready.
“I was calm the whole time,” Foles said.
In other words, Foles believed.