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Super Bowl Experience is Overrated

After the Packers' win this past Sunday, we've now seen teams with less experience at the top outplay the teams with Super Bowl experience in three out of the last four Super Bowls. While the Steelers still had more than 25 players from their 2006 Super Bowl win on their roster, Green Bay came out on top with no players having ever played in the Super Bowl before.

The Saints were able to do the same thing last year despite the heavily favored Colts having previously won in 2007. Eli Manning's Giants pulled off a similar stunt in 2008 upsetting the 16-0 New England Patriots, who had made a habit out of making the big game, most recently winning in both 2004 and 2005. I think it's clear based on recent history: having Super Bowl experience gives almost no advantage whatsoever.

I am so sick of the ESPN hype machine coming up with pointless story lines, only to get proven wrong again and again. I get it, I guess. They have two weeks to prepare for one football game, so they have to do their best to cram as much worthless material into their segments as they can. The constant jargon about how experience means a lot is so overplayed, though. I'm sorry, but regardless of whether you've been to the Super Bowl or not, it makes zero difference.

These are paid professionals we're talking about, guys who have played football their entire life. Most of these guys are so good, they've had tremendous success at the lower levels (high school, college, whatever) leading up to this point. They've all tasted success already. More than that, they've got millionaire coaches who prepare them for 14 days to be ready for something they've been striving for their entire lives. At the end of the day, it's just another football game. 

In sports the moment can become too big for some. I'll admit that. Sometimes an athlete who is not mentally tough can get overwhelmed by the immensity of the moment. Football is not an individual sport, though, it's the collective effort of 11 guys on either side of the football. There is no way to assume by a huge generalization that 11 guys on one side are going to see benefit from experience whereas the other 11 will under perform due to lack of experience. The other 11 guys have experience. They've been playing football their entire lives. They live, eat and breath football every day. They get paid millions to have their lifestyle completely revolve around football. The bottom line is this: is there a good gameplan in place, and will the players execute it well? That's it. Every team that enters the Super Bowl has the ability to win it.

The old adage that defense wins championships is true, and guess who played better defensively this Sunday? The Packers. The one with "less experience." Guess which quarterback played better? Aaron Rodgers. Kind of like how Drew Brees outplayed Peyton Manning and kind of like how Eli Manning outplayed Tom Brady. Does that mean the trio of Brees-Rodgers-Eli are better than Peyton-Brady-Big Ben? It's close, but no, not necessarily. What it does mean is that those other guys are still elite quarterbacks capable of huge games. Why? Because they're highly trained and highly prepared athletes, regardless of Super Bowl experience. So please, let's drop the assertion that a team goes into the Super Bowl as heavy favorites based on the fact that they've been there before. It never did the Buffalo Bills any favors.