Melissa Walsh

The Will to Win

Powerplay Communications | February 2011 | The Will To Win

The Green Bay Packers had to be tougher than steel to win Superbowl XLV. This year’s Superbowl match-up will be remembered fondly as a well-executed battle between two fierce teams fighting valiantly for the championship title. Of course, this is what makes a Superbowl game a great event ! the drama of the will to win.

Tenacity Leaves a Mark What is celebrated, what will be remembered years later, is the story behind the Packers’ commitment to team and tenacity on the gridiron to achieve their mission of returning the Lombardi Trophy to Lambeau Field after 14 years.

Each year the media circus surrounding the over-analysis of the commercials and hype of the pre-game and half-time shows seems to attract increasingly more attention from the adventure of the game itself. This is unfortunate, because it is the lesson of the game that Americans, especially young American boys, really need.

To witness the will to win playing out in real time is a blessing. It is nutrition for the soul. Trophy namesake Vince T. Lombardi said, “The spirit, the will to win and the will to excel ! these are the things that endure and these are the qualities that are so much more important than any of the events that occasion them.”

Commenting to the press immediately following the game, Packers coaches and players quickly attributed the Superbowl win to the dedication of the Green Bay community, to the tight bond between Packers team mates, to the sage leadership of Head Coach Mike McCarthy, and to the steadfastness of Quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Community Honoring the commitment of Packers fans, in the wake of the great win, McCarthy explained to reporters, "We're a community-owned team, so you can see the fingerprints on the trophy." Indeed, the Green Bay Packers is the only non-profit, community-owned major professional sports franchise in the country. Green Bay’s little more than 100,000 residents own the team to prevent it from being purchased and moved to another city. The community is literally invested in the team.

Team "We've been a team that's overcome adversity all year," Greg Jennings told Pam Oliver immediately after the game. "Our head captain [Charles Woodson] goes down, emotional in the locker room. Our No. 1 receiver [Donald Driver] goes down, more emotions are going, flying in the locker room. But we find a way to bottle it up and exert it all out here on the field.” He concluded, “To God be the glory.”

Leadership McCarthy dismissed the jinx factor and led his players to hone confidence for the game in a kinesthetic way by having them fitted for rings the night before the Superbowl. He wanted his players to enter the field already feeling the win. Linebacker Desmond Bishop told ESPN, “We could see that it was right there. Everything we wanted was right there in our hands, literally and figuratively.” Rodgers praised McCarthy as “a players’ coach.”

Mental Toughness Another significant element to the win was Rodgers’ attitude. Rodgers, who only a few years back landed in the center of the Brett Favre return-from-retirement controversy, demonstrated patience, resolve, and, very obviously given his performance last night, controlled skill. “That's kind of been my career. Waiting on an opportunity and making the most of it," Rodgers told reporters after the win. "This was another opportunity last night. ... I'm just real excited to be a part of it."

Hero Training In a society that has lost a clear, cohesive, and consistent rite of passage into manhood for its boys, a society that equates “manning up” with beer commercials, a society that seeks to control an adolescent boy’s testosterone spikes with medication, sports are such an important part of community. Participation in sports may be the only way a boy will find his way to develop the will to win. Playing sports cultivates a boy’s innate seeker temperament into the character of a warrior who understands what it means to fight the good fight. In other words, sports train a boy’s brave heart, encouraging it to blossom into a hero’s heart.

Heros don’t win every battle, but they always have the will to win.