The New England Patriots scored 31 unanswered points to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime, 34-28, at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday, making Tom Brady the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl games.
Among the many qualities Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay appreciated about his famous father, a legendary college football coach, was his unwillingness to walk away from difficult situations.
“Finish the drill, that’s what he believed,” McKay said of his late father, John, who won four national championships at USC during a coaching tenure that lasted from 1960 to ’75.
John McKay was coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 and ’77 when the expansion team lost its first 26 games. He might have felt the urge to bail out, but didn’t, and that franchise went on to reach the playoffs three times before he retired in 1984, and advanced to the NFC championship game in 1979.
“He clearly could have gone back to college and done whatever he needed to do, and he wasn’t doing it,” the younger McKay said. “He was going to get it right, and that was a really hard time from a family standpoint but so rewarding to see it finish the way it finished.
“Whatever the dark days are, you have got to hang in.”
That coach routinely finished the drill. Now, his son has a chance to finish the job.
Rich McKay, whose team plays New England on Sunday in Super Bowl LI, endured some incredibly trying times with the Falcons, the worst of which came in 2007 when star quarterback Michael Vick went to jail for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring, and coach Bobby Petrino — who was brought in to mold Vick into an elite player — quit when the Falcons were 3-10 to take the coaching job at Arkansas.