There are many truly gifted athletes in many sports but, in my estimation, what separates the true champions from the wanna-be’s is the mental aspect of the sport they are playing. Michael Jordan had that edge and, as much as I dislike him, LeBron James has that edge. I could go on.
Scenario: The Rams just kicked a field goal with a little over two minutes left in the game for a 2-point lead. Unfortunately, that required that they kick the ball to the Packers and Aaron Rodgers, and we all know how Rodgers always gets the job done in crunch time.
The ball soars into the end zone. Of course, the returner took a knee, got the ball spotted at the 25, and brought out Rodgers for what would certainly be the game winning drive, right? Wrong! The returner, who obviously does NOT have that mental edge, inexplicably brought the ball out of the end zone, got hammered at the 18, and fumbled the ball back to the Rams.
Enter Todd Gurley. The Rams run him twice and the Packers use their last two time outs. There is still well over a minute left in the game when Gurley runs it a third time and , suddenly is in the open field heading for the end zone and glory! But wait, instead of scoring, Gurley slows down, looks around, and goes down! By doing so, they do NOT have to kick off to the Packers and Rodgers again. Instead, with the Packers having no time out lefts, they simply take a knee and end the game.
Those two players, one having no mental grasp of the game situation and the other having a deep understand of the game situation made the difference in that game and, very possibly, in the entire season for either or both teams.
Todd Gurley, my new hero!