Super Bowl LIII will feature the New England Patriots battling against the Los Angeles Rams for ultimate supremacy Sunday evening at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The week leading up to the game has been adorned with equal parts of culture, history, and legacy.
The New England Patriots are lead by a transcendent quarterback in Tom Brady who will play in his ninth Super Bowl in 17 years, a feat unheard in the history in the National Football League. His culture and credo can be applied with one word: pliability.
At 41 years of age, Brady’s flexibility to learn different offensive philosophies, coupled with a strict plant-based, gluten-free diet has allowed Brady’s career to defy the bell curve of an average NFL player.
“Think about it: The last three years we’ve been privileged to go to the Super Bowl with a quarterback in place. I would be quite surprised if he didn’t continue for quite a while as our quarterback,” Kraft said at Super Bowl LIII after attending commissioner Roger Goodell’s news conference.
Brady’s goal is to play football until he’s 45.
“The reality is I don’t think many people thought I’d be playing like this even though I had a great belief I would,” Brady said when asked about his longevity. “I think RKK [Kraft] has always supported me in my beliefs and thoughts. That’s why we have a great relationship.”
The other person instrumental to the Patriots success has been head coach Bill Belichick. Belichick is often a man of few words unless he’s discussing defensive philosophies, Bon Jovi, football (and military) history and his favorite football player, Lawrence Taylor.
During his Wednesday press conference, Belichick went on a 953-word soliloquy on football history and how it relates to his team.
“I’d say we’ve had so many conversations about great players and so forth, but one of the real challenges, when you talk about great players in the National Football League, is the two-way players versus the one-way players,” Belichick opined. “In our game today, everybody’s essentially a one-way player, including the specialists.”
“If you go back to a certain point in time — let’s call it the ‘40s, and certainly the ‘30s — football players were mostly all two-way players, and that was a different type of a player. Maybe they didn’t excel as much in some skills as some of the current players do, but our current players don’t have to play both ways, or they do in rare situations. I mean, [Julian] Edelman’s done it for us, Troy Brown did it for us, [Mike] Vrabel did it for us, but that’s a pretty short list.”
Belichick’s statement provides more than a glimmer into the Patriots football philosophy. It is the backbone of the current dynasty and the underlying reasons why this team could win their sixth Lombardi trophy Sunday.
On the other hand, the Los Angeles Rams are appearing in their fourth Super Bowl. The franchise lost Super Bowl XIV, defeated the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV in the Georgia Dome (five years after relocating to St. Louis), and eerily enough, were defeated by the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI, which launched New England’s current reign over the NFL.
The Rams are led by 34-year-old head coach Sean McVay, who like Belichick, grew up loving the game from an early age.
McVay’s grandfather, John, was the personnel director of the San Francisco 49ers, collaborating with Bill Walsh as they won four Super Bowls in the 1980s. McVay won the 2003 4-A Championship for Marist High School in Brookhaven.
When McVay took over the Rams in 2017, the team was in disarray, lacking identity and a compass. The first thing McVay did was establish a philosophy based on the phrase, “We Not Me.”
“Every player regurgitates the stuff,” said Rams punter Johnny Hekker. “I definitely — even in interviews you can hear players talking about stuff and they’ll say — drop that line or drop something about being a connected team or talking about connection, there’s just a lot of little things that he says that you definitely tell rub off.”
The Rams are led by quarterback Jared Goff, a player during his rookie season many observers deemed a bust after the team drafted him with their first overall pick.
However, Goff has won 24 games in two seasons under McVay’s tutelage. This season, the signal-caller from Cal-Berkley has thrown for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns.
“What I love most about Jared is he doesn’t let the circumstances of a game — good or bad — affect the way that he competes,” McVay said.
“And I think that fearless nature, not being afraid to fail and always attacking success, is something that certainly helps me as a coach.”
Currently, the oddsmakers have installed the Patriots as the favorite to win Sunday evening.
When toe-meets-leather inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Super Bowl LIII is poised to be a game played with acute attention to detail that could be decided in the final seconds.