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Now that everybody is rushing to try to digest and analyze the unexpected outcome of Super Bowl XXXVI, this is a good time for Miami fans to consider these results from a Dolphin perspective. The Patriot win was a big surprise for the entirety of the NFL, but it's a absolute mind-blower for Dolphin fans. Here we have the AFC East team that was picked by most to finish near the bottom that somehow managed to win not only the division, but the league championship and then the Super Bowl. Ouch. It hurts even worse to know that cast-off ex-Dolphins like Damon Huard, Larry Izzo, Terrell Buckley, Grey Reugaumer and Bryan Cox will soon be sporting those gaudy, diamond-studded rings. It's no headline: There is nothing terribly impressive about the New England Patriots. Don't hurt yourself trying to remember the name of their wider receivers. Sure, they have some very talented players, as do all NFL teams. Yes, Billichick was always perceived as an excellent assistant coach, but certainly not as an inspirational leader. The pre-season odds against the Patriots even being in the Super Bowl as given by Vegas must have been tremendous. Yet here we are and the Patriots are the NFL's best team. Say it one more time for effect: "The Patriots are the NFL's best team." Argue all you want, cry, scream, kick the wall or pound your fists on the floor - God has spoken - and there's a big message here for those willing to listen. The words of the dictate have been painted in orange, iridescent letters about ten feet tall. Guess what? Attitude and teamwork really do mean everything - even in the NFL. Who'd-a-thunk it?!
Now I doubt that there is a bigger, more over-used cliché in all of sports than "the winner will be whichever team wants it the most." It's a disgustingly trite way to sum up the grueling struggle in which NFL players must engage to survive. Sixteen regular season games, at least four pre-season games, countless mini-camps, scrimmages, practices and hours of pain-filled workouts. Should they be so fortunate, add three more very tough games to the end of the gauntlet for a Super Bowl team. Distilling such a campaign into a single bit of fluff is an insult but, when you look at the big picture of the winner's season, that cliché is really what best seems to explain the outcome. New England is not a team that will be described as overloaded with talent. Certainly they were incredibly fortunate to have a kid such as Tom Brady on their bench, yet his performance alone was hardly enough to carry this team. He is a very competent and polished player given his level of experience, but he is not the whiz-bang hero most fans seem to think is essential to Super Bowl success. These Patriots won their way through to the Show despite a dismal start, a heavy share of bad luck and went into every playoff game and then the Big Game as huge underdogs. On Sunday, fifty-million people tuned in to watch the Pats be humiliated in a massive blow-out. - a debacle - a double-barreled massacre. Just for funů picture the Dolphins in this same scenario. Did you cringe when you imagined the likely outcome?
Now, let's get back to the point of the sermon. Question: What should the Miami faithful learn from yesterday's lesson? There seems to be several messages that come from the Patriot`s Super Bowl win. All are a little bothersome. To Dolphin fans they say: It's not really a question of having Pro Bowl talent. Winning is not just about avoiding injuries or off-field distractions. It's not all about having a well-known star as your starting quarterback. Loudest of all is the message that it's all about attitude and desire. When the least-talented group on the field rules the day, it just has to be about which team wanted the win the most. It's a real shame that it's not more complicated.