NFL15 Cherry Picks W8: Psychology of Winning

31 Oct

In a time when sport stats suddenly went from being a straight-forward standard measure of performance to becoming an endless avalanche of esoteric acronyms that’re the be all and end all for those of the sabrmetric sect, the less tangible measure of emotion in athletics has been given short-shrift by many who vest heavily in analyzing the games.

But just as numbers never tell the whole story, or sometimes speak downright “lies (See; British super PM Ben Disraeli and Mark Twain),” neither does physical skill by itself deserve all the spoils for victory won on the battlefields of tumultuous merriment.

...batman&robin.wc.1966.dadofJGKlein.thmIf you think the Patriots and Packers win lots o’ football games simply because they possess top QBs, innovative staffs and run deep on player talent…well, you‘d get a good mark, I’ll give you that, but overlooking the importance of mental muscle and emotional fortitude in winning would get you big demerits.

Impassioned play, or more broadly stated, the psychology of winning, plays a critical role in determining outcomes of most games. More importantly, it’s the on-going maintenance of that winning attitude and unselfish play that will sustain those who ultimately take possession of the vaunted VLT (Vince Lombardi Trophy).

Just as the noted Russian-American film producer-writer Val Lewton (See; TCM) cultivated the psychology of scary (Cat People (’42), I Walked With a Zombie (’43), The Body Snatcher (’45), The Leopard Man (‘43)), so too do the savvy sideliner (coach) and signal-caller utilize the mind-game mode to it’s fullest.

Belichick and McCarthy are calm & calculating in front of the camera, probably away from it as well, but no doubt they pepper their pronouncements with constant reminders to players and staffers alike on the mental keys that will play big in each week’s upcoming contest.

New England Patriots

The aura of a champion will buoy all spirits but likely requires no small amount of emotional effort to maintain the high standard of play expected by both their fandom and co-workers as well. Nobody wants to be the guy who killed the mojo.

...pumpkin.cat.10.28.12.wc.Silar.thm

Green Bay Packers

Just as winning helps Tom Brady put Deflategate in the back of his mind, so too do Ws help the green & yellow push last January’s playoff collapse versus Seattle (22-28) to the back recesses of their brains in the methodical progression forward to the same goal of returning to the Super Bowl in 2016.

Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, KC Chiefs, SD Chargers, Dallas Cowboys

Winning breeds winning, so too does losing, especially when unexpected. These five franchises had high hopes for ’15 but find themselves on cusp of catastrophe. Breaking the cycle of loss requires what may be the toughest task of all, that being to plant seeds of hope where there have been precious little to germinate.

Cincinnati Bengals

Most teams anticipate playoffs with a certain glee, but when you’re 0-6 the past decade it’s a different mood: tempered & tight. But like GB, these striped tigers see the past as yesterday’s news and 2016 as a new opportunity. Gulp.

Miami Dolphins, NY Jets, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, STL Rams

For these teams the mentality of winning is a fairly new feeling, being forged one game at a time, one step forward, one back and so on and so forth.

A Better Way

On Wednesday NFL announced it had fined Steelers’ defenseman William Gay $6000 for willfully violating NFL/PA policy that essentially requires a dress code. Gay violated it by wearing a pair of purple cleated shoes, the color to promote the fight against domestic violence and then honor his deceased mother. Bill was a child when his mom was shot to death by the hand of his stepfather who afterwards took his own life.

...Gay.W.wc.E.Owens.thm.2007

Bill’s reported to be active in the anti-DV effort in Pittsburgh metro and made statement on his actions that rings sincere and logical: “I’m not trying to be bad teammate (Steelers-friendly yellow on the shoes (Vikings)) or embarrass the owners, there’s so much pink, on shoes, on gloves, for breast cancer awareness, I think domestic violence awareness is just as important (“William Gay’s Purple” / NFL.com / A.Kinkhabwala / 10.30).

And he’s absolutely right. It’s the 10,000 lbs pink elephant in the room. The anti-breast cancer campaign in which the NFL participates is fighting the good fight, ostensibly (8%), but over-tailored to just one cause, of which there are many.

He’s also absolutely wrong. There’s a better way to bring awareness to important issues apart from rebelling against dress-code, rules that you, through union, signed onto. Such small power-plays, becoming more frequent, make news but are ephemeral and open a Pandora’s Box to less honorable expressions ($).

Using his celebrity bully-pulpit to connect with press and public is just one way William and his brethren in ball can make his noble effort truly impactful.

“Brady, Brady, Brady, Almighty (S. Tracy)!”

As most NFL teams hit the midway marker at weekend‘s close, the eventual recipient of the League’s prestigious MVP award (Feb?) start to take serious shape in the minds of voters.

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbBarring an injury or big fall-off in performance, once that frontrunner gets hold in the psyche, it’s unlikely he’ll be extricated therefrom by any other person short of the most stupendous play down the stretch-run.

To write that it’s a two (Rodgers) or three (Dalton) or four (Newton) horse race would be disingenuous to Mr. Brady. Tom’s out front by a good two lengths, seems to be gaining speed and it’s his hardware to win or lose.

Aaron may close the gap if he shines at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday night (These corporate stadium names are a major drag), while Andy and Cam are the dark horses but unlikely to catch the two thoroughbreds leading the pack. Their best chance: A gopher jumps the track.

One thing that might derail Brady’s near perfect run would be if Sports Illustrated and their cover kids decide to grace their magazine with Tom’s likeness sometime in the next two months. Not hard to imagine.

I put no stock in kooky claims of curse (That billy-goat thing in Chicago is an insult to the “city of the big shoulders”) but SI’s recent run of cover crash has me wondering whether I’ve been too close-minded. TimeInc had the Cardinals as the greatest ever, then Blue Jays best thing since sliced bread and this week it’s the slow-startin’ Mets and “Amazin’ (Dan) Murph.”

But like sage Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” And Mets just took G3.

..cherries.on.cloth.thumbCherry Picks Week 8

DET (1-6) @ KC (2-5) (Ldn): 11.1 Fox 9:30: Lions win
Arizona (5-2) @ Cleveland (2-5): Fox 1:00: Cards win
49ers (2-5) @ St. Louis (3-3): Fox 1:00: SF wins
Giants (4-3) @ NO (3-4): Fox 1:00: Saints win
Minnesota Vikings (4-2) @ Chicago (2-4): Fox 1:00: Bears win
San Diego Chargers (2-5) @ Baltimore (1-6): CBS 1:00: Ravens win
Cincinnati (6-0) @ Pittsburgh (4-3): CBS 1:00 (GOTW2): Steelers win
New York Jets (4-2) @ Oakland Raiders (3-3): CBS 4:05: Jets win
Seattle (3-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-4): Fox 4:25: Seahawks win
Green Bay (6-0) @ Denver (6-0): 8:30 NBC (GOTW): Broncos win
Indianapolis (3-4) @ Carolina Panthers (6-0): 11.2 ESPN 8:30: Colts win

Record: 32 – 32

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo Credits: WalterWhite.pumpkin, wc.cca, 2013, A.Barhan; Batman-Robin-Halloween-kids, wc, 1966, father-of-JGKlein; pumpkin-cat, Silar, 10.28.12, wc; W.Gay, wc, 2007, E.Owens; NFL-symbol, Wikiproject; Cherries-on-cloth, wc, picdrome, 2007.
Posted: 10.31.15 @ 2:22pm EST; Copyright © 2015

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