1 + 1 = 3
The 2020 NFL season, like other prominent professional sports in America, will be marred with political divisions; two national anthems, disrespecting our flag, kneeling during our national anthem, political messages in the end zones and on helmets, and sports fans refusing to watch the games they love because of this politicization. The NFL like the rest of America is divided.
The day after the opening game of the 2020 NFL season marked the 19-year anniversary of one of the most devastating events in American history, the 9/11 terrorist attacks on American soil. It was that day our country was never more unified in my lifetime. We put aside all of our differences and came together as Americans.
And it was also that season, the 2001 season, the season of 9/11, when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady emerged to prominence in the NFL. In the wake of the terrorist attack, 2001 truly became the year of the Patriot, in the United States and in the NFL. The 2001 Patriot team and 2001 America can both be defined by one word, unity. And built off that foundation of unity, the Patriots have ruled the NFL ever since.
During these last 19 years a revolution has taken over sports with the implementation of analytics and statistical analysis to guide organizational decisions on and off the playing field. But one of the most important mathematical equations in sports and in life is often overlooked, and that is 1 + 1 = 3. That equation does not make any mathematical sense, but it is true and real in life.
The Beatles invaded America in 1964, and proceeded to have one of the greatest, most memorable runs in music history. In 6 short years, the Beatles recorded 34 top ten hits and 20 number one hits. But there was division within the group, tension. Who was responsible? Who should get the credit? Lennon or McCartney? The Beatles broke up in 1970 to pursue solo careers. How did that work out? They both had flashes of their former genius, but neither came anywhere close to the overwhelming sustained success as solo artists as they had as the Beatles. Lennon and McCartney wanted to prove they were better off without the other, but in the end all they proved was McCartney needed Lennon, and Lennon needed McCartney. To this day, my heart still aches for all the great music the world missed out on because these two great musicians were unable to put their egos aside and focus on producing more great music. 1 + 1 = 3.
In 1994, after winning back to back Super Bowl Championships with the Dallas Cowboys, Owner Jerry Jones and Head Coach Jimmy Johnson parted ways. There was a lot of internal tension of who was responsible for the success that great dynasty, Jerry or Jimmy. The answer, they both were. Many people believe that if the duo remained intact, the Cowboys may have won 5 Super Bowls instead of 3. Neither Jerry or Jimmy came close to achieving the same success apart they had together. Jerry needed Jimmy, and Jimmy needed Jerry. 1 + 1 = 3.
Chicago Bulls GM Jerry Krause broke up their 1998 Championship team, and denied that great basketball team, and the greatest player of all-time a chance at a Four-peat? Jerry Krause believed that “players do not win championships, organizations do.” He tried to prove that the organization was most responsible for 6 Championships in 8 years, but he actually proved the exact opposite. Over the next 4 years, the Bulls franchise led by Krause produced a 25% winning percentage with zero playoff appearances. More than anything else, Krause proved that the organization needed the players to win those championships. 1 + 1 = 3.
Which brings me to one of the most famous breakups in sports history, Belichick and Brady. After 20 years together, 20 years of unity which produced an unprecedented 19 winning seasons, 18 playoff berths, 9 Super Bowl appearances, 6 Super Bowls championships, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will no longer be coach and player. Bill Belichick, one of the greatest coaches of all time, has a 46% winning percentage as a head coach without Tom Brady as quarterback. It was hard for me to understand how these two NFL all-time greats could not figure out how to work out a contractual agreement to keep them together.
Maybe there will be a Tampa Bay vs New England Super Bowl this year. Will how that turns out be definitive proof of who was responsible for the Patriots' 6 Super Bowl victories? Or will it just be their final gasp of genius, like Belichick’s “Imagine” to Brady’s “Baby, I’m Amazed”? But most likely, Belichick will realize he needed Brady, and Brady will realize he needed Belichick. 1 + 1 = 3.
So, as we look at America in the year 2020, the political, racial divisions that are tearing apart our great nation, can we really be call the United States of America anymore? Are we really “united” if we have two national anthems, two political parties refusing to work together, family members across the country refusing to talk to each other due to political differences, people being killed for their politics, their race, their religion? If we take a step back, put our egos aside, and really think about what is best for our country, we will realize that we are truly better together than we are apart, 1 + 1 = 3.