Early morning Saturday chores in the New Orleans 7th Ward were the norm for me, my brother, and our neighborhood friends. Later that day, we would have our epic "Street Football" battles. However, before they began, we would click the TV channel to ABC's Wide World of Sports.
Jim McKay's stellar voice would narrate the visuals of triumphs. More than that, we would wait to see the ski-jumper wipe-out on the slopes! It was painful to watch, but it was the reality of sports and life.
"The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat," exclaimed McKay. Poignant and so true to this very day for the New Orleans Saints and their leader, Drew Brees.
Before Arya Stark saved the Game of Thrones world from the Night King, her sword instructor Syrio Forel gave these words of wisdom: "There is only one god, and His name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death - 'Not Today!'
I wonder, today, as Drew Brees approaches the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for what is likely his final home game in the NFL, is he thinking, "Not Today?"
Brees, Brady, Rodgers, and Mahomes are Gladiators. And, all gladiators possess the "Not Today" mentality. As in the times of the Romans, football is also a fight to the death. One wins, and one loses. In the NFL, the victors have at least one more game to play. Another step towards the Lombardi Trophy. But for the loser, the day will be final.
The fabled Greek King Croesus once asked the sage Solon about his final happiness. Solon replied, "I cannot answer the question you ask me until I know the manner of your death. Count no man happy until the end is known."
On this Sunday morning, ahead of this afternoon's contest between the Saints and Buccaneers, the end is an unknown. And, it's premature to wonder Brees' fate. Still, today is and will only be about winning. There is no other option for Drew Brees and his teammates than to win.
Please make no mistake about this one matter. New Orleans' quest to hoist a second Lombardi trophy faces its most substantial test since 2009 - the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Saints expect the Bucs to exact vengeance from their prior two losses in 2020.
But through the arduous years filled with meetings, workouts, interviews, injuries, honors, glory, accolades, records, and triumphs. Brees also dealt with the doubters, naysayers, time away from family, the discomfort of losing, moments of disillusionment, chaos, and more.
The challenge of today awaits this legendary hero. The fates and happiness of many a gladiator were unknown before they entered the coliseums and arenas. It was how they exited those fields of battle that the witnesses would report their fates through word, folklore, fables, and extraordinary tales.
What will Drew Brees and his brilliance say to the Playoff Gods? Not Today!
The only way for Brees and the Saints to do this will be about "Carpe Diem." To Seize the Day!
Will they do it?
We shall see.