With the biggest game of the year upon us, many this weekend with focus on the matchup between the two teams, the legacy of the players who end up on the winning side, the commercials that will win the day, or the number of Buffalo wings they’ll consume.
But the Super Bowl also offers many lessons for people pursuing success in their professional lives. Throughout the years, many players who have shined on the biggest stage of professional football have gone on to lengthy and successful careers.
In 1990, if you asked any football fan or expert about the prospect of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman becoming a Hall of Fame player and Super Bowl champion, it’s unlikely you’d find any who would think there was a chance of that happening. The Cowboys didn’t win a game with Aikman as the starting quarterback, and he threw twice as many interceptions as touchdowns.
So what happened over the next two years that would lead to the Cowboys winning Super Bowl XXVII and Aikman being named the MVP?
Over those two years, Aikman grew and matured while the Cowboys organization surrounded him with a talented offensive line and future hall of famers in Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith.
If you’re just starting your career and gaining experience in your work, don’t give up. Understand that success takes time and that as you learn more about your career field, you will experience more wins.
The other lesson to remember is that nothing is accomplished on your own. A successful career is often the result of teamwork, so make sure to learn from those around you and thank them along the way.
Known for his toughness, resiliency, and big smile, Hines Ward’s story is one of perseverance through tough circumstances.
Ward was a highly regarded wide receiver coming out of college in 1998, with many expecting him to be one of the top five receivers selected in the pro draft. But before the draft, it was discovered that Ward was missing an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee from a bicycle accident during his childhood.
This news made many teams wary of his health, and Ward fell from being one of the top receivers in the draft to being the 12th receiver taken when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the third round.
Over the next seven seasons, Ward and the Steelers found success but came up short of their ultimate goal, a Super Bowl trophy. Then, in 2005, the Steelers won Super Bowl XL and Ward was named the MVP.
Throughout his career, Ward was known for his willingness to block for teammates and make the catches that would leave him vulnerable to big hits. This sacrifice for the good of the team towards a common goal is a lesson we can all take to heart in our professional lives.
The most recent Super Bowl MVP, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has played the majority of his young career with a spotlight on his efforts and an expectation of success.
Drafted second overall in 2011 by the Broncos, Miller was anticipated to be a highly successful player who could lead the rebuilding of the team’s defense. While he saw success early on and the Broncos became a contender, toward the end of the 2013 season, Miller tore his ACL and watched as his team made it to Super Bowl XLVIII. From the sidelines, he watched the Broncos suffer one of the worst losses in Super Bowl history, falling to the Seattle Seahawks, 43-8.
Two years later, Miller helped lead his team to another chance for a championship as the Broncos made another appearance in the Super Bowl. Instead of standing on the sidelines, Miller was instrumental in the Broncos victory, forcing two fumbles and winning Super Bowl MVP.
Just like Von Miller, many of us have expectations set on us for success, whether from leaders at work or friends and family members at home. Those expectations may put a heavy weight on our shoulders, but they can also move us to work harder knowing that others have confidence in our abilities.
And when setbacks happen, we know from the stories of each of these Super Bowl MVPs, they don’t have to define us. We can grow, learn, and reach new heights if we’re willing to put in the effort and fight to see success.
What other prime-time performers from past Super Bowls can teach us career lessons? Let us know in the comments section.