By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."
As a New Englander, I have been rooting for the New England Patriots ever since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick assumed control of the team. I had a very slight acquaintance with owner Robert Kraft through some family friends but that didn’t cause my following of the team.
One memory I’ll always have about the Patriots was its “founding member” the Sullivan family. They purchased the team for very little, $25,000 for the eighth and final AFL team in 1960. They eventually got into financial trouble by bankrolling one of the Michael Jackson rock and roll tours. In effect, they were forced to sell the team.
What I recall was the Sullivan family built the first original home stadium for the Patriots in Foxborough for approximately $3 million. Contrast that with the almost $2 billion to build the new Las Vegas stadium for the Oakland Raiders who will move there next year.
There was nothing more uncomfortable than sitting on backless concrete seats in winter. There were no luxury suites, in fact no covered seats at all. You sat in the outdoors – in freezing weather.
Now the main point about the Patriots (and the theme for this article) is that it appears the golden run of the Patriots is just about over. This season, Brady looks like an average quarterback. In fairness to him (now 42 years old) he does not have the receiving corps that he needs to be an elite quarterback. In other words, time seems to have caught up with the team and its great quarterback.
The New York Yankees: They built one of the best records in baseball this season. But they were eliminated in the divisional playoffs before reaching the world series. Their payroll is one of the highest in baseball, almost $400 million.
Contrast that with the Oakland Athletics, made famous by the movie "Moneyball." Total payroll under $100 million. See Sabremetrics a statistical approach to baseball has shown that good management can build a championship team based upon careful analysis of non-superstar player’s skills vs. just buying the most expensive players.
So another example of a time that has come and gone. The Yankees had built a dynasty – winning 27 world series titles – by purchasing the best talent, including Babe Ruth (from the Red Sox).
One’s Youth: Unfortunately, it appears as if we all come to the end of our childhoods. There are so many “telltales” that signify that our childhood is on the wane. For me, I think it was realizing that I could not go through life watching TV. Rather, I was expected to develop a career and actually amount to something.
Other life events along this path included the fact that just because you “liked” someone, it did not necessarily mean that that person “liked” you back. Or, that in spite of wanting to be the shortstop for a professional baseball team, that dream went by the wayside at some relatively early age.
Raising Children: In my opinion, we all “hope” that our kids never grow up. There is something so great about having young children around your home. It is the wonder of watching them grow and learn. But unfortunately, that time seems to end so fast in our case both for children and grandchildren.
The realities of life and living: I am not disappointed with how my life turned out (so far). However, at some point most of us realize we’re never going to be President of the U.S., (frankly, I can’t think of a job I would like least than that one), or President of General Motors. So at some point, we come to the realization that no matter how successful we think we are, all one need do is look around to see how some fortunate people rise to a very high level.
I always like to quote my favorite movie producer, Woody Allen and his Academy Award movie "Annie Hall." In the movie, Allen expresses his general unhappiness because, “as long as there is any suffering in the world – I am not happy.”
This is in synch with my supposition that no matter how successful you may be, all you need do is look around to see that close by, someone else has run into some bad luck.
I guess one way of looking at it is that life has to have its ups and downs. As for me, I prefer the “ups” but have grown to accept some of the “downs” with it.