Last night, I hung out with friends for the super bowl. The game was between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. It was the second meeting between the quaterbacks, Eli Manning and Tom Brady. It was also a a battle between the minds of the coaches – Tom Coughlin of the Giants and Bellicheck of the Patriots. The Giants won the previous meeting in 2007. I was hoping that Tom brady would win and enter the history books as the greatest ever. Unfortunately, Brady’s receivers did not share my vision. They were dropping balls as though they were burning hot potatoes on the field. The sure handed Wes Welker could not hold on to a pass that hit him in his hands. He was amazing in the regular season, but choked when it mattered the most. His drop changed the nature of the game.

The nature of some of these drops is the topic of my blog today. Many athletes are not able to perform when the bright lights are burning down. When the stakes are the highest. Many choke. This raises the argument regarding whether Eli is just lucky or is he a guy that just raises his game when the stakes are the highest. Eli has now beaten Tom Brady and Patriots, two times in a row. When the Giants win, there is always some lucky play. Some lucky catch. But then, for there to be a lucky catch, there has to be a great throw. Once again, last night was no exception. Big throw and an even greater catch brought about a first down for the Giants and the subsequent crushing of the New England Patriots. The Patriots on the other hand looked great all season, but didn’t look as sharp last night. Tom Brady was the only player that raised his game to super bowl status. He was able to switch to a higher gear, but his teammates couldn’t.

I liken this situation to many fighters who are called ‘gym fighters’. They look amazing in the gym, but when the lights are on, the crowd of strangers is calling for blood, when it’s truly real, they choke. I’ve seen it so many times. I’m going to the New York Golden Gloves tournament as a spectator this year and I’m sure I’ll see many of these choke artists. You see them in the locker room hyperventilating, throwing up and damn near peeing on themselves. Everybody gets nervous. This is brought on by the uncertainty of the unknown. Every time you go into that ring as a heavyweight, it might be your last. You can’t make a mistake. One clean punch from a heavyweight could change your life. But yet we do it because competition is that important to us. We would rather die than face the fact that we can’t ever compete again. It’s not a feeling everyone has. It is impossible to measure how much testosterone or competitive gene causes us to crave it to so much. Many people do not understand it. Michael Jordan continues to seek avenues where he can get his fix of competition, but can’t find it. He has tried baseball, golf and racing bikes. None of them match the competitive payback that playing basketball at the highest level gave him.

When does it end? I truly believe that as long as testosterone runs through the veins of men and women like me, we will continue to seek out competion. Even if it means our death.


Ngo Okafor

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