Once you get competent at poker, it taints your perception of sports to some degree. As you grow as a poker player dealing with the element of chance you learn to not be results oriented. You focus on making the right play-- the one that is most profitable, most often. The individual result of the play to some degree is irrelevant. This kind of thinking doesn't translate to talking heads and/or evaluations of sports figures.
Instead we have to suffer knee jerk reactions, overreactions, and hyperbole. One play goes different and the majority of people have completely different world-views.
Here's an example, last night a Patriot defender made a great play to intercept the ball and here's what the talking points are:
1. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever.
2. Tom Brady can play into his 40s
3. The Patriots are one of the all time great dynasties
4. Bill Belichek (autocorrect wanted to fix Blichek to bellyache, kind of funny cause he always looks like he has one) is the greatest coach ever.
5. Pete Carroll made a TERRIBLE, maybe the worst ever, play call and cost his team the game, his legacy is forever tainted.
However, let's say the pass were caught for a touchdown, or maybe fell incomplete, and the Seahawks punch it in on a later down. Here's what our world would look like:
1. Tom Brady is one Super Bowl loss away from tieing Jim Kelly for most all time.
2. Tom Brady is over the hill, last night was a passing of the torch.
3. The Seahawks could be on their way to be the greatest dynasty ever.
3b. Russell Wilson could be on his way to winning an absurd amount of Superbowls. His desire to get six might be fulfilled.
4. Belichek made a pair of TERRIBLE decisions, maybe two of the worst ever, and cost his team the game. He should have called a timeout to give Brady a chance to go on a drive and probably should have let the Seahawks score as soon as possible to get the ball back, cause he'd only need a field goal to force overtime. His legacy is forever tainted.
5. Pete Carroll's may be the greatest coach ever. Back to back superbowls and college national championships. What a genius.
Everybody blindly believes the first five, and they'll always believe them because the results support that.
Here's the truth. Yes, Pete Carroll probably made a bad play call. (Even worse was how they botched things and seemed indecisive). That said, hardly the worst play call ever. Yeah, I probably run it, but actually his thinking was kind of right. If he passed it, against New England's loaded up run defense he'd have three shots to win the game. Run it on the next play and then call timeout if Lynch didn't score. Then run it on fourth down. How many times in 100 does the throw get picked? 1, 2, maybe 3?
Otherwise, you run it against their run defense, and then have to call timeout. Which means on third down if you want two shots to win it, probably you have to throw it (with possibly the same result) or at least bootleg Russell, against a defense more prepared for that. Possibly if you run it again, you get stopped on third down and you don't even get another play. Would you rather have three chances to win it or two?
To some degree hard to argue with the talking heads, just give it to Lynch. He'll get you the yard.
Humorously, if he didn't, the same guys would be attacking Caroll for only getting off two plays instead of three.
Now, let's examine the conclusions, does the result really matter?
1. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever. Win or lose he's in the conversation. As Roy Williams once said after winning his first national championship, "I'm not a better coach today, then I was yesterday." Tom Brady is a great quarterback period. If he never won a superbowl he'd still be a great quarterback. Yeah, four times ties him with Montana but also with Bradshaw, nobody thinks Terry Bradshaw is one of the three greatest quarterbacks ever.
2. Tom Brady can play into his 40s. Possibly but unlikely. If he stays healthy, maybe. Football players seem to hit a cliff in regards to performance when wear and tear just brutalizes them at some point. Obviously winning or losing this game changes nothing in regard to that--except for the reaction. Lose and cue the retirement questions--just ask Peyton Manning. He will only get worse, it's just a matter of when and how quickly.
3. The Patriots are one of the all time great dynasties. True, but that was true win or lose. As for Seattle if they stay intact, who knows.
4. Bill Belichek greatest coach ever. Win or lose, he's in the conversation. People point to him getting it done in free agency era as the ultimate proof of him being the greatest, but everybody has advantages and disadvantages in different eras. That's not definitive of anything but his era. Nor does it rule out the fact, a guy in a different era might be just as good in free agency as Belichek. We don't know. He's great though, and maybe the greatest.
5. Pete Caroll's legacy should never be questioned. Win or lose. Guy just wins, he's got multiple championships. Plus he's a pimp.