Your team has just won the Super Bowl. Usher in the confetti and streamers, the bands and cheers. The parade has begun.
But after basking in the pleasure of victory's afterglow, comes the aftermath -- business.
While the headlines and fanfare are bigger, so are the egos and, with that, the paychecks. Not only do the stars –- like Plaxico Burress, who announced he wouldn't practice with the Super Bowl-champion Giants on Wednesday –- want new contracts, but so do the role players. And losing those glue guys can undo championship teams quickly.
To most people, winning the Super Bowl would seem to be a crowning moment of their life. But there are negatives to winning it, too.
1. Free agency: Struggling teams without a roster brimming with playoff-tested veterans seek out role players to lend experience to their squads. These teams believe these additions are the key to postseason success. They often aren't.
2. Egos: Role players begin to believe they are better than they actually are. They see their names in the newspaper more. Everyone tells them they should be starting. And, let's be honest, not everyone is a starter in the NFL. Many of these guys are just pieces of a greater puzzle.
In other words, perception is not always reality. Especially in the NFL.
The Patriots have a roster chock full of guys hungry for both personal and team success. That's why they have stayed elite for so long. It doesn't matter if you're making $7 million a year. Losing doesn't feel good. Pride kicks in as a competitor.
The beginning of the end for the Super Bowl XXXV-winning Baltimore Ravens came when we decided to release our quarterback, Trent Dilfer. The Ravens' front office signed free agent Elvis Grbac away from Kansas City in hopes of super-charging our offense. Many of my teammates scratched their heads when that move was made.
Here's why management made the move: After you win, front offices want more pizzazz. The league has become so quarterback-driven, so fantasy-driven. It wants the wins AND the staggering offensive numbers.
To this day, Dilfer is the only quarterback to be released after leading his team to a Super Bowl win. Sure, Grbac looked better in shorts, but he didn't have nearly the leadership qualities of Dilfer, who was a role player that knew his role.
We also brought in Leon Searcy to play right tackle for us. He got injured in the preseason. The team had to rely on rookies after losing several backups to free agency and some others who had gotten nicked up. The season following the Super Bowl, most of our second-team guys had left, and those are the guys you really need. By the 2002 season, just a season after winning it all, the Ravens were 7-9.