Words & Sports

A Message to Atlanta Falcons Fans

Dear Atlanta Falcons Fans,

What an incredible season you just had. One of the best offenses the NFL has ever had, an MVP quarterback, a division crown, two playoff games where you beat up on the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers…and those aren’t just any teams–these are perennial powers. And a shot at the Super Bowl against the best organization in pro sports, the New England Patriots.

No, you didn’t win the Super Bowl, but even coming this far was an achievement. Remember back in the pre-season? The odds of your Atlanta Falcons winning the Super Bowl were 80-1 back Message to Atlanta Falcons Fansthen. Those are not good odds. Then your team lost week one to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and your odds dropped to 100-1. I bet most of you were thinking, “here we go again.”

And then it happened–a four-game winning streak. Sure, you followed that up with some losses, but then you won your division, got a bye in the playoffs, and made it to Super Bowl 51!

Just making it to the championship is an accomplishment. I’m a Buffalo Bills fan. As you probably know, the Bills have never won the Super Bowl. Even the New England Patriots, the team that has now won it five times out of 51 years, has a success rate of less than 10%. That’s better than 0%, but 90.2% of the time the New England Patriots did not win the Super Bowl. Think about that.

But all this doesn’t make up for the fact you had the Super Bowl Championship in your grasp with a 25-point lead and then lost it. I can only imagine how that must feel. How do you as an Atlanta Falcon fan get past it?

Let me ask you a question. Back at the beginning of the season, you didn’t think your team was going to go all the way, did you? And yet you felt some optimism, didn’t you? You enjoyed the season. Why? Why did you enjoy the season when you didn’t think you were going to win?

It’s because the season is more valuable than the championship itself. I know you don’t buy this now, but the journey you just went on was more important than the destination. The same goes in business and in life.

Perhaps you want to create an amazing Virtual Reality product or you want to buy a beautiful home on the ocean. Maybe you want to sell your business and ride off into the sunset. Like winning the SuperBowl, these goals are pretty unlikely. Maybe you’ll make it, but maybe you won’t.

You could get frustrated by your long odds, or, like a sports fan, you can enjoy the journey. You can look back on the amazing season your Atlanta Falcons had and think about how you had real success. You outplayed easily 30 other teams. Not everyone does that well—my Buffalo Bills didn’t!

And at least you care. The loss wouldn’t hurt if you didn’t care, and it’s important to have things to care about.

So where do you go from here?

Where you go from here is you keep doing your best. The ultimate goal is something you may never reach. But that’s okay because the journey is really what you’re in it for. Say you don’t get that beach house. Say you don’t get to sell your business and ride off into the sunset. In the meantime, you get to do work you believe in and that you’re good at. You get to live following your dream.

Do you regret this season? Do you think the Atlanta Falcons regret this season? Give yourself a little time to get over how it ended and then look back—I can guarantee you’ll be saying what an amazing ride it was. And then you’ll say, “let’s do it again next year.”

(Well, let’s do everything except losing the Super Bowl in overtime thing, of course.)



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Image of the GA Guardsmen leading Falcons onto field was taken by the Georgia National Guard under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license; image of Cleveland Browns vs. Atlanta Falcons was taken by Erik Drost under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license