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February 7, 2013
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It’s been a strict Niners rule since the inception of the franchise; if you make it to the Big Game, you win it. No exceptions. On Sunday, this heralded tradition was broken as the Niners lost their first Super Bowl in six appearances. However they, and football fans everywhere, didn’t go out quietly. The game was filled with controversial calls, turnovers, and bizarre power outages.
Fans responded with fury to each of these game-changing events through social media and other outlets. Niners fans crucified the officials for their missed holding call on Michael Crabtree in the waning seconds of the game. While Ravens fans griped about the power outage, which undoubtedly tore momentum out of the Ravens’ hands and handed it to the boys in gold, questioning the New Orleans staff’s capability to host a Super Bowl. Others berated Kaepernick after his ugly interception and first half in general, calling for Alex Smith’s return to the field.
While I won’t argue that if any of these things had been a little different, the entire complexion and outcome of the game would likely be different, I will say that becoming furious over these things is completely and utterly foolish. Sure, the refs missed an obvious holding call in the end zone on a ball that Crabtree would have surely caught for a TD if he was let free, but the Niners had already played a laughable first half and committed multiple big-time errors. The only reason they came back into the game was due to the off-chance power outage that threw momentum in their favor. In sports, like in life, you have to be able to take adversity, pick yourself up and get ready for the next challenge. In this Super Bowl, each side can learn significantly from this lesson.
The Ravens didn’t do this as after they built an impressive first half lead, they came out flat after the power outage. They didn’t stay warm, focused, or committed to playing a complete game. They let their foot off the gas, and when the Niners came back, they had no answer to their flurry of scores. In the end, Baltimore got lucky and by a few missed calls, they pulled out a very close victory after what should have been a Ravens blowout.
However the application of this lesson to San Francisco applies more towards the future. The Niners played a jaw-dropping second half after they were stunned by a first half Ravens assault, but moving forward the Niners will show their true character. In every game, season, and career, one will have ups and downs, but its not about how many highlights one has, it’s about how one bounces back from their lows. It’s about how quickly they get up after they’ve been knocked down or gotten a bad draw.
With a young team, led by now second-year Colin Kaepernick, the Niners will be back in the playoff race for years to come and will most likely find themselves competing for the Lombardi Trophy multiple times in the next decade. While Kaepernick and Harbaugh may be feeling the pain of losing in their first Super Bowl, their legacy will be determined by how they respond, and if they stay committed to playing tough, hard-nosed football day-in and day-out, they will undoubtedly have multiple rings to their names’ by the time their careers are through.
And a similar message goes out to the Niner faithful. There is always a next year, and with such a bright future for the Niners with Aldon Smith and Kaepernick, you should be more than excited that each day is one day closer to the 2013-2014 season. For fans especially, each loss makes the subsequent victories all the sweeter. Take a look at the 2004 Red Sox World Series. After 86 years without a title, Boston finally pulled out a sweep of the Saint Louis Cardinals, and those who stayed faithful to the Sox throughout the hardest of times were the ones who fully enjoyed the eventual victory. So to all players and fans who are currently hurting over the Niners loss, know that they will be back and griping about calls or plays that could have gone differently is simply petty, since if one keeps their eyes in the rearview mirror, they won’t be able to see what’s coming straight ahead of them.
(P.S. You Niner fans should feel lucky. At least you haven’t lost four straight Super Bowls and been virtually out of the playoff picture ever since like the Buffalo Bills. Who’s got it worse than Bills fans? Noooo-body)