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Former Quarterback: Winning In The NFL Is A Losing Proposition

Quarterback Scott Mitchell of the Detroit Lions hangs his head in frustration as he walks off the football field following an unsuccessful play in the Lions 37-21 loss to the Raiders at Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California. Mandato

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Winning in the NFL is a losing proposition no matter how you look at it. If you understand pro football the only thing that matters is winning the Super Bowl, anything else is a failure.

If this wasn’t so, multiple coaches wouldn’t get fired every year, players wouldn’t get benched, traded or cut because their production wasn’t enough. This vicious cycle is perpetuated every year and will continue as long as there is pro football and as long as there is a Super Bowl.

I’m proud of the fact that I played 12 seasons in the NFL, yet, in spite of that, you could argue that my time in the NFL was a losing proposition. I won games, had statistically significant seasons, got to the playoffs, but never won a championship – no rings, no rides in the Disney Parade, no hugging the Lombardi Trophy. I’m not alone in this. Most players and teams live the same fate. They will go their entire career and essentially become a loser.

Look at the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Arizona Cardinals – perennial losers and I mean big losers. The Lions, Jaguars and Texans have never been to the Super Bowl, and probably won’t ever get there. All of these teams, year in and year out, never or rarely even have winning seasons let alone win championships.

Now, look at the good organizations.

The NY Giants have been bad as of late and don’t look to improve anytime soon. What about my Miami Dolphins, one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Then you have some recent Super Bowl participants, like the LA Rams (did they fall off a cliff or what?) they got all the way to the Super Bowl and looked like an up and coming team with an up and coming coach, but where are they this year?

How about the Atlanta Falcons two years ago? Matt Ryan looked like the next elite quarterback, they were winning the Super Bowl by 25 points only to lose in the end, where are they now? That’s right – they are losers.

I wish people understood how hard it is to win in the NFL, not only during a season but especially the playoffs.

One team out of 32 will win each season. The odds of winning are a third of one percent. The fact that the Patriots have won six and been in nine is beyond impressive.

Tony Dungy recently said, “I had Peyton Manning for five years before he even won a playoff game.”

Some of the greats never even win a Super Bowl – Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and, of course, me.

If we know all of this, why don’t we let players develop more, or keep coaches around? I firmly believe if Wayne Fontes was kept as the coach of the Lions during my time we would have won a Super Bowl. If they would have kept the talent on our team together we would have won.

The reason teams win isn’t because their players worked harder, or their coaches were smarter and had better schemes. It’s just the luck of the bounce, being in the right place at the right time.

I worked my butt off for years just to make it in the NFL. I did crazy things to keep myself in the NFL. You hear of Jerry Rice’s insane workouts and Walter Peyton’s crazy workouts. These players were not alone, everyone works hard and does crazy workouts.

For me and most NFL players, we were losers by the standards of the NFL, but I can tell you, that making it to the NFL and staying there for 12 years was a remarkable victory.

I will never forget it, apologize for it, or consider myself a loser. Striving for your dreams, challenging yourself, working hard for something is a tremendous win in my book even if you never win a Super Bowl.

Scott Mitchell is the host of Helmets Off podcast. The show features conversations about the NFL and college football. Listen and subscribe here or wherever you find podcasts.