From the wild celebration in the Patriots locker room after an epic Super Bowl win, to the Falcons locker room filled with the agony of defeat, the fallout from what transpired on the field was all the talk in the Devils locker room today.
As it no doubt was in locker rooms everywhere.
Although a handful of Devils are Patriots fans like Cory Schneider, coach John Hynes and New Hampshire native Ben Lovejoy, the monumental comeback, or collapse — depending on your point of view — was a lesson for professional athletes and coaches everywhere.
Adam Henrique seemed to be quoting Yogi Berra this morning when he said “A game is never over. Ever.”
“Last night was something special to watch,” Miles Wood said. “I’m from Mass, I grew up watching the Pats, and to see Tom Brady pull that off? Down 25? Unbelievable.”
When I asked him, ‘Was it ever in doubt?’ He at least paused. Then after some prodding, he answered “Yes. Of course. But That’s the great things about sports.”
“You look at the game when we played the Preds. We were down 4-0 heading into the third and we came back and won the game. That’s the thing about sports. That’s what makes sports so much fun to watch.”
Ben Lovejoy was equally impressed. “As a player, you always try to trick yourself into thinking we can do this. We can believe in ourselves, we can make this comeback. The reality of erasing a 25 point deficit usually doesn’t happen. When we’re in a similar position in this room or on the bench, you always want to force yourself to believe you can do something like that. But I still can’t believe they did it.”
“It was a really ugly first three-quarters. It was hard to sit through and you’re hoping for a miracle but I definitely did not expect that. It was really pretty special.”
And finally Cory Schneider, who came out to meet the media, proudly wearing his gray Patriots Cap said, “I mean you’re part of games and funny stuff happens in our game for sure. And you’ve seen a lot of things over the course of your career, but when you watch something like that — whether you like the team or not — it’s unbelievable. You can’t believe something like that just happened.”
“And I think that’s why we love sports. That’s why people enjoy watching and rooting and cheering. It’s moments like that. Whether you love the Pats or hate them, at least they play entertaining games.”
I asked Cory if it served as a reminder that it’s just never over.
“You have to have great leadership and great leaders make those kinds of things happen. It reminds you as a player, if you want to be one of those guys that’s what it takes. From an athlete’s perspective, you just look at Tom Brady. The calmness under pressure. He’s a guy who knows how to win and you see he’s the kind of player that just does whatever it takes.”
Adam Henrique, after mentioning it’s never over til it’s over, elaborated on his point. “Especially in a championship setting. You’re obviously playing a great team. They’re there for a reason and you saw last night that a couple of seemingly small plays at the time end up being huge turning points in the game.”
And from a coaching perspective? John Hynes said he wouldn’t even want to count the ways you can learn from that game and the New England organization as a whole. As for the 25 point comeback?
“I didn’t see that coming but as a Pats fan, I knew they wouldn’t be down the whole game.”
Hynes said he watches Bill Belichick and the Patriots coaching staff during games like that, probably more than your average fan, but he was talking today about how much you can learn from coaches in all of the major professional sports.
“I think that’s one of the benefits of being able to be a coach in the NHL or the NFL, the NBA. You can communicate with coaches, you’re in a circle where there are open lines of communication.”
“You don’t have to tell all your secrets or anything, but I know Ben McAdoo of the Giants is an avid hockey fan, and I’ve texted with him a lot throughout the year. Even Brett Brown, coach of the 76ers. We have the same ownership group. A lot of times it’s not Xs & Os. It’s just about the team, dealing with the team culture, rules, practice habits teaching styles. You can always grow from other sports.”
And from the Patriots performance in this Super Bowl?
“You look at their ability to execute under pressure, in the red zone. Even with Brady, the calmness, his ability to make clutch plays, clock management. They do so many good things, that’s why they’re successful – and that’s why they win. A lot.”