The sports gods smiled on Brady


National Post, 6 February 2017

They were favoured to win beforehand, to be sure, but one thing seemed to elude the mighty Patriots, precisely because of their mightiness. The epic comeback, the impossible victory. The sports gods, about which I have written before, were on their side.

President George H. W. Bush did the ceremonial coin toss for the Super Bowl 15 years ago at the Superdome, six months after 9/11. The New England Patriots lost the toss, but won the game. It was Tom Brady’s first championship.

On Sunday night in Houston, only two weeks removed from a spell in the ICU, Bush 41 was back for the toss. Broadcaster Joe Buck said there was a “not a tougher man in this stadium tonight,” a tribute to his being the youngest U.S. Navy pilot in the Second World War, having survived at sea after being shot down. The others in his plane were killed. Bush survived. Survival and perseverance would become something of a theme in the game. Bush tossed the coin. The Patriots lost.

They usually do. In their record nine Super Bowl appearances, the Patriots are 2-7 in the coin toss, and have never won it in any of their record five wins. But on Sunday night, that opening toss by President Bush was only the second most important coin toss of the night. In the first ever overtime Super Bowl, the Patriots won the coin toss at the end of regulation time. Of course they would. It was the one that mattered. Taking the ball first, they marched down the field and into history. On Sunday night, the fates were arranged even for the coin flip.

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