Much has been said and written about a human being’s ability to overcome physical limitations and accomplish feats that many would say were impossible for the average person. Time after time, we are reminded that the physical limitations of the human body can, and are, often overcome by some kind of yet not understood, mental inspiration or exceptional ability.
Popular culture is rife with stories of people lifting cars from trapped motorists, the rescue of individuals from burning buildings and parents coming to the aid of their stricken child in spite of the potential risks. Ordinary, everyday people capable of doing extraordinary things. Individuals who do things as if they had the heart of a lion.
Athletes: a man, Roger Bannister, ran the 1st four-minute mile, a record that the experts of the day said could “never be broken.” A woman, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, becoming one of the greatest Olympians of all time. Jackie Robinson, breaking down all racial barriers in a sport once denied to people of color, or Jesse Owens, shining the light on the maniacal bigotry of Adolph Hitler while racking up Gold Medals. These were ordinary people performing extraordinary feats of physical and mental strength that most people thought shouldn’t be possible.
Many of us have experienced similar moments. When we did something that no one else thought we could do; when we exceeded in something beyond our limitations and accomplished something incredible. We did not know how or why we did it. We just know it came from an extreme and sincere desire to do it better than we had ever done it before.
This mental acumen, this psychological triumph, isn’t easily understood. It is fleeting and arduous beyond imagining. If it were, then we would win at everything. So even though we may not have a perfect understanding as to how we accomplished this once in a lifetime feat, we do know that it took practice, patience, understanding. However, most important, it required belief. A belief that we could do the impossible.
It is entirely within the realm of reason that the 2017 Oakland Raiders possess “it.” Certainly, the rookie kicker, Giorgio Tavecchio has “it.” At least he did this first game. Also, the Raider’s defense? They also looked like they had taken a bite out of the “you can perform above your potential” playbook in this resounding win.
You see the “it factor” is something that the statisticians and pundits rarely see. It is not something that jumps out at you when pouring over the preseason numbers or PFF rankings. You will not find “it” being featured on ESPN or Fox pre-game shows. It is not on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. “It” is something buried deep in the mind of each player on the team. Correction, “it” isn’t in the “mind” at all. It is in the heart. That is where it has always been and the heart is what will determine the eventual outcome of this season.
The heart of a lion will always be triumphant. The lion fears no one and will fight to the death rather than admit defeat. Schemes, preparation, ability and coaching matter. But not as much as the heart. So this year, maybe, the Raiders truly have the heart of a lion.