"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;"
Most sports reporting involves some manner of sermonizing, so why avoid it?
The language contained in the Bible can be cryptic at times - open to interpretation, as it were - but that little ditty from the Apostle Paul's epistle to the Philippians can be integrated into everyone's life at one point or another, no matter the circumstance, no matter your religious affiliation, no matter what side of the tracks you come from...
...it actually has absolutely nothing to do religion - rather - it is a lesson to man that worry is a symptom of distrust, no matter the application.
Indeed. Lord knows that Boston sports fans have been at the doorstep of Nirvana many times, only to have the doormat pulled out from beneath them - so much so that they can almost be excused for their worry and doubt - the painful past detailed by the media, ad nauseum, to the point that their incessant hand-wringing and superstitious routines cease only when the trophy is in hand.
And many of the people who work as scribes for the local rags have used this well-worn distrust to their advantage for years, utilizing the medium as a personal pulpit for which to spread their own gospel - but most times it is a gospel of fear, planting seeds of doubt and of distrust...
...so when a question was posed to New England Patriots' coach Bill Belichick regarding the relative inexperience of his crew going into the playoffs - just like a pastor will do with his flock, Belichick worked to dispel any thought that the youth of the team brings any anxiety along with it.
"I really think at this point in the season after 16 regular season games that all of our players, even our young ones, should be pretty well acclimated to what NFL football is about." Belichick said, sticking to his own axiom that, after a full regular season, rookies are not rookies any longer.
The Patriots' 53-man roster is the youngest in Belichick's tenure in New England, with a full third of his roster made up of rookies - and if you add in the players who are in their sophomore years with the club and those who came to the Patriots from other teams who have not experienced the playoffs before, Belichick and his staff are dealing with the fact that half of their roster has very limited big game experience...
...something that Belichick feels is something that works it's way out of the picture during the grind of the regular season.
"Really your roster is constantly evolving, even if it isn't evolving it's evolving because your younger players as they spend more time on the roster and their role becomes let's just say bigger" Belichick continued, "You've been more battle tested. You've been through more weeks of preparation."
"You've been through more real games, regular season games. You've been through more whatever ups and downs, whatever challenges your team faces over that period of time, You get a better feel for individually and collectively they'll deal with those."
Just as the media's questions feed into the public's collective anxiety regarding the playoffs - well founded as the trepidation may be with the number of debilitating injuries to key starters - the mercurial coach has a built-in foundation of hand-picked depth to fall back on, and those players wouldn't be on the roster if Belichick didn't trust they could do the job.
He built the roster - as he always does - with the idea that the team will be playing it's best football in December and into the post-season, and though no one could have foreseen the arcane circumstances that injury has brought about on the depth chart, there is a reason why Belichick stayed the course with the players he started the season with...
...a reason that he stuck with his rookie receivers when all those around him were screaming for him to bring in some veterans to give quarterback Tom Brady more consistent targets; a reason he stuck with his youth movement on defense, even when his incumbents were falling like flies: Bill Belichick trusts himself.
Rarely has there been a man more confident in his own processes that he refuses to waver from them - some call it arrogance, some call it stubbornness and still others call it outright stupidity, but one thing that can't be questioned is his success rate - and for that Belichick doesn't demand our trust, doesn't even care what anyone thinks.
Bill Belichick trusts his system, trusts the people that he brings in to carry out his philosophy and trusts the players that he puts on the field to execute that philosophy and to create his final product - something that is evident when he speaks of the respect he has for any potential opponent, and how he prepares his people to engage them in battle.
"Our next opponent will be as good as any team we've faced all year. We'll have to be at our best. I think that's the key thing about the playoffs." Belichick said, "We just have to recognize how good we have to perform, prepare and be ready for everything, how critical every play is because the level of competition is just heightened at this time of year, given the quality of the opponents."
Given the quality of the team that Belichick has assembled, given his trust in them - regardless of their level of experience - and the trust he has in his own processes, we should be anxious for nothing because this team has earned our trust.
Photo Credit: David Silverman/NEP