Year of the Underdog: Why Some NFL Teams Might Surprise You

Vince RiccioContributor IAugust 14, 2010

ALLEN PARK, MI - AUGUST 05:  Nate Burleson #13 of the Detroit Lions gets ready to catch a pass during training camp at the Detroit Lions Headquarters and Training Facility on August 5, 2010 in Allen Park, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

I love a good David and Goliath story.  The little, underrated guy called David up against the big, lean machine known as Goliath.  It makes for great debate and chatter.


I find that many people pass off these ‘David’ NFL teams all too often and the rest of their logic follows with “well they just haven’t been good enough because last year…”  Well that isn’t the case anymore.  Today is the day in which we play the game.


How Does The Story Go?


Here is your history lesson for the day.


The story claims that there was a war between the Philistines and the Israelites, each on a mountain, and only a valley separated them. 


The Philistines had a secret weapon and that weapon’s name was Goliath. Goliath was a large and in charge type of figure; he was the champion of all the Philistines.


One day, Goliath called over to the other mountain and called a primal call of war with the Israelites, much like how John Randle got into the head of his opponents.  Goliath suggested that the Israelites must pick a warrior to do battle against them, and if the Israelites lost, they would become the salves of Philistines.


In short, David claimed he had the will power and ability to take Goliath down and save the people from his terror.  When asked what experience he had, he said “I have kept my father's sheep.  If there was a lion or a bear and it attempted to take a lamb out of my flock, I would go after him and seek out the lost sheep of the flock and return him.  I have killed lions and I have killed bears.”


So David went forth and faced the mighty Goliath with nothing but a slingshot and some stones.  Goliath could only laugh at the sight he saw before him.  Goliath grew with anger and was now furious with the level of “disrespect” the people had for his power and might when confronted with this small boy. 


Goliath charged toward David.


With a simple flick of the wrist, David launched stones against the giant’s forehead and Goliath tumbled down to his demise.


The Power of Underdog Status


I couldn’t help but notice the connections between NFL team names littered throughout the story… lions, bears, giants.  Let alone the ability of the story to capture the difference between the perceived strong and weak.


First, what exactly is an underdog?  By definition, an underdog is either 1) a person who is expected to lose in a contest or conflict, or 2) a victim of social or political injustice.  Both of these definitions explain a great deal about the aura that surrounds the David and Goliath storyline.


A team that is EXPECTED (it doesn’t say will) to lose.


There are a host of teams in the NFL that fans, and teams alike, that are cast away as nothing more than road bumps on the way to the Super Bowl.  That’s the problem thou, Goliath had this exact problem and you witnessed how it didn't help him.


The drive and determination of an underdog is, with a doubt, can be classified as a deeper and more inner desire that those with a team of players who have already crowned themselves.  Sometimes, we fall into the trap of siding with the more formidable team as having the greatest potential for victory.  While that can be said to be true, but to believe that to be true 100% of the time is your Achilles heel.


Last year’s Super Bowl was between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints.  Let’s be honest here, did we suspect the Saints to be contending for the world title in game two of the preseason?  No.  Every team has the potential to emerge like a phoenix from the ashes.


If you have the belief that your skills are among the very best in the league, you have already failed.  It is the “lack” of having a skill set that drives you to achieve the next level.  Like I have always said, resting on the laurels of your past will only provide you with memories of yesterday.


Which teams will be there in the finals?  It’s hard for me to claim I know which teams will provide a Cinderella storyline. 


It all depends on which team fights for every yard.

What's Your Take?