If You Want To Win The Game, You Have To Play The Game

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Being a football fan here in New England for the last couple decades can best be described as something of an unforgettable experience, ever since a couple of guys named Brady and Belichick came to town.

Tom Brady signed with the Patriots right out of college, selected in the 6th round of the 2000 draft, the overall 199th choice that year. Bill Belichick on the other hand was returning to New England after a three year stint as assistant head coach with the NY Jets, having previously worked for coach Bill Parcells here during the 1996 season.

Over the last seventeen seasons their combined talents have helped produce a remarkable number of records including 15 AFC East titles, the most consecutive division titles in NFL history with nine straight from 2009 to 2017, as well as the record for most Super Bowl appearances (8) and won (5) by a head coach and quarterback tandem.

The Patriots are currently tied with the 49ers and the Cowboys for the second most Super Bowl victories — just one shy of the record six championships held by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The sheer volume of team records along with last year’s remarkable come-from-behind, overtime victory against the Atlanta Falcons, left many fans with a sense of optimism bordering on outright certainty regarding the outcome of this year’s contest.

But, if you saw the Super Bowl game a few weeks ago you may have come away disappointed and a bit confused, perhaps even questioning the genius of Coach Belichick by the time the game clock ran out.

You Must Play To Your Strengths

Belichick’s numerous accomplishments here in NE have made him a living legend, having turned an otherwise average NFL franchise into a perennial contender for the league championship. Together, he and Brady hold so many records it’s entirely possible some may never be broken, and along the way, he’s created a modern-day football dynasty.

As head coach, one of biggest challenges is not only to recognize talent but also to utilize that talent where it does the most good. That’s what makes the great coaches great.

But it also makes what happened in this year’s SB contest all the more unbelievable — that night Coach Belichick benched one of his most outstanding young defensemen, a cornerback by the name of Malcolm Butler.

After starting in all but one game and playing nearly every defensive snap during the 2017 regular season and postseason, Butler didn’t see the field for a single defensive play in Super Bowl LII.

Coach Belichick has since characterized it as a football decision and denied it had anything to do with discipline.

Remember, this is the same Malcolm Butler who, during his rookie season, was the hero of Super Bowl 49 with his goal-line interception late in the game against the Seattle Seahawks, and who just last year earned a second team All-Pro selection. There’s no doubt he knows how to play the game.

So, why wasn’t Butler a starter that night? Why didn’t the coaching staff make the traditional halftime adjustments and put him in after New England struggled so much in the first half? What in the world was Belichick thinking?

Well, the short answer is, it simply doesn’t matter.

It’s just a Game, and we are the Spectators

We may never know the reason why Butler didn’t get a chance to play that night, and it doesn’t really matter.

That’s right, it doesn’t matter why Belichick did what he did, and it matters even less what the rest of us think about it. Football is a game played by professional athletes and it’s a sport where either you do what the coach tells you to do, or you take a seat. Football is, after all, a dictatorship, not a democracy.

But perhaps more importantly, it’s a reminder of all the things we can control and all of the things we can’t. In every game there are players and there are spectators, but only one group is in a position to influence the outcome of the game. They’re the ones wearing the helmets and the shoulder pads; they’re the participants, the players down on the field.

Now, it’s OK to be one of the millions of spectators for the big game, but in the game of life, or the game of retirement, you have to be a player. You have to be down on the field; making the moves, taking the hits, and changing the game.


Coach Belichick apparently thought his team could win the game without him having to put each and every one of his best defensemen on the field — turns out he was wrong. Brady threw for a lot of yards that night and together he and the offense put a lot of points up on the board, enough points to win almost any other game.

But not this game.

In this game the NE defense spent far too much of the night struggling to stop the Eagles from moving the ball downfield, and ultimately were unable to protect their lead during the final few minutes.

Philadelphia, on the other hand, showed up well prepared and armed with a game plan that left nothing to chance. They came to play, and they played hard on both sides of the ball — on offense, and on defense. These days, anyone serious about retirement needs to be doing the same thing.

Like the runner-up Patriots, far too many retirees these days are employing an unbalanced, heavily offense-oriented retirement plan.

This strategy may have worked well over the last eight or nine years, but there’s little doubt sometime soon they’ll be lining up on the defensive side of the ball, and only then will they find out if their plan measures up.

The distribution phase of your retirement endgame is not the time for any more trial and error — by this point you want to have yourself completely prepared to secure the big win, especially as you make your breakout move into retirement.

That’s why I’m encouraging you today to take some time to discover the very best options available to you for building and ‘protecting your lead’ during your retirement years.

By doing this, you’ll be putting yourself above all of the ‘status quo’ and mediocrity the banks, Wall Street, and the politicians have to offer. More importantly, you’ll be defending the value of your retirement savings while locking in a safe, secure future for decades to come.

So, get off the bench and get in the game, but more importantly, play to win.

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