Super Bowl LV: What 365 Days Can Do
How the NFL’s biggest game provides us the opportunity to reflect on the mercuriality of life and the passage of time
By: Maxwell Argento
It’s crazy what 365 days can do.
At this time last year, as I sat down on the campus of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting in Tampa to write a preview for the Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, everything seemed perfectly in order. The game itself was wonderful, the company I shared to watch the game even more so. Afterwards, I wrote about Patrick Mahomes’ talent, Andy Reid’s brains, and the humanity on display during football’s biggest night.
Little did I know that the very humanity that shined so brightly on that night would be put to the ultimate test just a few weeks later. None of us, save the most talented of fortune-tellers, could’ve pictured how drastically the world was about to change.
The buzz of the Chiefs victory and the normal hum of life was surprisingly replaced by news that outbreaks of a virus called Covid-19 were becoming more and more serious around the globe as the days elapsed. No one knew exactly what to do, but placed their faith in the passage of time.
“This will be gone in a couple weeks”, or “just be patient” were sensible thoughts to have while answers were sought out and rationalizations were formulated.
But we know what 365 days can do.
The pandemic caused me to move back home to my hometown of Rochester, New York, where a massive realigning of my priorities was in order. Dealing with the halting of my professional ambitions, the loss of a family member to cancer, and the uncertainty of my future created a stew of resentment, fear, and anger, directed mostly towards the virus and the toll it was taking on my family and I.
Engaging in day-to-day life all of a sudden carried with it a strange burden, with masks and social distancing becoming commonplace. Simply seeing friends or going out to run errands were tasks that fell slowly by the wayside, and the stark reality that this way of life may just become “the new normal” started to set in.
Jolts of added perspective were provided along the way, as stories of individuals losing their lives and stores going under due to the lack of business flooded our social media timelines and news feeds. We were in for a more serious fight than we had originally anticipated, and discussions about weeks turned into months. Thoughts of the pandemic waging into 2021 started to become more and more real, even though it seemed so far away.
But some days, weeks and months out of the 365 move faster than others.
Everyone, including the NFL, was in a battle to put the pieces back together and get their lives into some semblance of an order. In the case of America’s biggest sports product, the season was to go ahead as planned, albeit with strict protocols and virus testing that created a whole other host of challenges.
The unadulterated distraction that watching our favorite football teams has always given us was now strangely tainted, with reminders of what the pandemic was causing right in front of our eyes for us to see. Coaches, personnel and players wore masks on their respective sidelines, the stadiums (in most cases) were completely void of fanfare, and our favorite shows recalling the action were all of a sudden conducted on Zoom.
Along the way, organizations were infiltrated by the virus, and hosts of players that we know and love were testing positive week after week. Games were shuffled and solutions to problems were found, but there was still something artificial and hollow about hearing fake crowd noise and watching players celebrate touchdowns to ghosts in the stands.
Ghosts don’t have the ability to understand how tough this 365 was, but we certainly do.
Being home for the summer gave me a chance to luckily find an outdoor job that gave me hours unaffected by the virus, and I was able to keep myself occupied and my mind somewhat clear by working on my (terribly inconsistent) golf game.
Things seemed to be improving, if at a snails pace. Restaurants in my area were opening up slowly but surely, and people were finding solutions to problems through sheer determination and will. Outdoor seating became the fad, and it was nice to start seeing people in public while being safe and responsible.
The opportunity to be home with my parents made me realize how much I missed them while I was in Tampa chasing my career, and their company helped me continue to grow and keep things in the proper perspective.
Having my greatest allies with me during this stretch of the 365 was everything.
Things were going to plan on the NFL front as well, the league looking totally on track to finish their full schedule of games. Fans started to return in greater numbers to stadiums, and the product on the field continued to be top tier. Slowly but surely our perfect distraction was getting back to its true form.
“Feel good” stories around the league shined through the darkness, like Alex Smith returning from a near-fatal leg injury to quarterback the Washington Football Team, led by Ron Rivera, who successfully completed chemotherapy treatments while coaching his team to the NFC East Division title.
Youngsters Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert showed us that talent trumps age, and made young kids everywhere want to chase (and achieve) their dreams like they did. Their elder, Aaron Rodgers, claimed his third NFL MVP award after his replacement got drafted in the offseason, showing us that a little adversity shouldn’t deter us from achieving our goals.
Tom Brady left what was comfortable in New England and on the first year of asking, led his new franchise to a Super Bowl, proving to us that taking risks is required to push our boundaries and achieve greatness.
These men and their ability to take each day of the 365 as it comes is awe inspiring, and serves as a great lesson to all of us; as long as we choose to use each day as an opportunity to get better we cannot fail.
As I now sit here in Cleveland writing this year’s version of my Super Bowl preview with the understanding that we have reached the pinnacle of the season, I’m doing a lot of hoping.
I’m hoping for a great game, between two great teams. My wallet hopes the Chiefs cover the three points.
I’m hoping that regardless of the winner, we see humility in victory and respect in defeat.
I hope the game and the fanfare surrounding it can provide the proper distraction for people still in the grips of the virus, if even for a handful of hours.
I hope my decision to move back to Ohio to chase my professional aspirations pans out, and I hope to make my family proud.
I hope that the crucial lessons we have all learned from this virus and this sport during this year give us the strength to overcome challenges in our lives, and I hope the next Super Bowl preview I write is done in a world where this virus has started to become a memory as opposed to still being a reality.
I have faith in that being the case, because I know what 365 days can do.