Adversity is a part of life, and it's certainly a part of sports. Often it is the teams and players that handle adversity the best that end up having the most success.
Nowhere is that more evident than when you look at the two participants in this year's Super Bowl, albeit in very different ways.
For the Eagles, it's been a season-long theme, and their ability to overcome so many significant losses due to injury may not just be impressive, it may be unprecedented.
"The job of the Eagles front office and coaching staff continues to astound me," former Green Bay Packers executive Andrew Brandt told me on the "Ross Tucker Football Podcast." "To take away all of those key pieces and still make the Super Bowl is amazing. The conference championship was a highlight video of guys that weren't in Philadelphia last year and weren't highly sought after by other teams. It feels like everything they've touched turned to gold."
Brandt makes a good point. There have certainly been other teams that have had to overcome devastating injuries and maybe even gone with their backup quarterback. but has there ever been a team that's had to overcome this much?
Not only did the Eagles lose their MVP frontrunner quarterback (Carson Wentz) in Week 14, but they also lost their Hall of Fame left tackle (Jason Peters), their most productive running back (Darren Sproles), most important linebacker (Jordan Hicks) and best special teamer (Chris Maragos) along the way.
It feels like an unprecedented number of setbacks for a Super Bowl team, and even if it's not in terms of quantity, it's hard to come up with another team that matched the Eagles' injuries this season in terms of quality.
Certainly the 2010 Packers lost a crazy amount of players to injured reserve, but they still had quarterback Aaron Rodgers pulling the trigger. The 1990 New York Giants lost their MVP caliber quarterback in Phil Simms and had other significant injuries like the one suffered by emerging running back Rodney Hampton, but not to the extent of this Eagles team.
That's why this season, and in particular Sunday's game, were so impressive. Most people probably didn't even think about Brandt's observation regarding the stars of the NFC championship game, but he's 100 percent right.
Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was given a one-year "prove-it" deal and has done exactly that. Torrey Smith was signed for peanuts as far as starting NFL wide receiver salaries are concerned, getting a whopping $500,000 guaranteed.
Defensively, most people didn't know how much defensive end Chris Long had left, yet there he was at the forefront of both turnovers on Sunday. And Patrick Robinson, the corner who had the pick-six that turned around the game? He was categorized as a bust some time ago.
Put it all together and mix in a little Nick Foles, and it's truly remarkable.
The Patriots had to overcome their own bouts with adversity this season, including injuries to stalwarts like Julian Edelman and Dont'a Hightower, but the more poignant example of overcoming adversity for them was just about everything that happened during the game on Sunday.
It started even before the game, with quarterback Tom Brady having to get 12 stitches on his throwing hand and missing some valuable practice time during the week. Then, during the game, the Pats had to try to come back, again, against a younger, more physical Jaguars team that controlled most of the action through three quarters.
Because of their history, you pretty much expect the Patriots to find a way to beat the Jaguars, but even in the second half a lot of things continued to go against them. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks dropped a wide-open corner route that would have been a long gainer at a critical time in the game. Rob Gronkowski, by far the Patriots' most dominant skill position player, was officially ruled out with a concussion. And even just when they started to get some momentum on the Danny Amendola throwback pass to Dion Lewis, Lewis fumbled and turned the ball back over to the Jags.
It looked at that point that the Patriots might finally have too much to overcome, including a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit against a team they had struggled to put up 10 points again all game.
By now everyone knows what happened. Brady did what Brady does, and the primary recipient of Brady's brilliance was Amendola, as the Patriots overcame all that in-game adversity to punch their Super Bowl ticket yet again.
Just like the Eagles, only a little different.