Kings Of The Hill - By Mike Lynch


Kings Of The Hill

You've probably read about this quote in some of my previous articles or heard me say it at some point. It’s a phrase Bill Belichick once uttered to me and it’s always stuck with me. "The Price of Success is Always Paid in Advance." It has applied to everything in his life, as a student, player as well a coach and the results make those nine words sound prophetic.

During Super Bowl week I asked Tom Brady about that phrase and he immediately smiled and nodded before replying "yup, he preaches it all the time," replied Brady. "Put it in the bank, all the extra work all season long and eventually you will make a withdrawal," said Brady quoting his coach who was making an analogy to bank deposits readily available when needed. In the fourth quarter of this year’s Super Bowl, Tom Brady and his teammates filled out their withdrawal slips and used them to wear down and wear out the Atlanta Falcons who had dominated the Patriots for close to three quarters.

There is a hill behind the Patriots practice fields in Foxborough. Every now and then when practice ended during the season, Belichick would send the whole team to run the hill. The players hated it BUT he was telling them to "put it in the bank." He actually made them run up that hill several times during the week before they departed for Houston. Some of the newcomers thought Belichick was crazy making them run at such a late stage in the season. Those who had been on the team for a few years just smiled. The price for success was being paid as they ran the hill. They were putting their conditioning "in the bank."

So now we are back at the Super Bowl and withdrawals are being made. As the game wore on it appeared as if the field was tilted with the Patriots constantly running downhill while the Falcons seemed to be running uphill.  There was a lot of huffing and puffing and all of it was coming from the Falcons side of the line of scrimmage. During the fourth quarter the Falcons pass rush disappeared, fatigue had set in. The Patriots ran 93 plays, 63 of them were passes with the Atlanta defense chasing Patriots with heavy legs. Tom Brady had been hit and harassed for nearly three quarters but no opponent laid a glove on him his final 15 passes. Receivers ran away from defenders and no Falcon linebacker could stay with James White who caught 14 passes.

It was the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history and the seeds for their rally were planted on "the hill" back in July. The price for the Patriots success was paid long before they fell behind 28-3. They became Super Bowl Champions because they were "Kings of The Hill."