It's Old Vs. Young In The Patriots-Rams Super Bowl Matchup

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A pedestrian crosses a footbridge decorated with a banner ahead of Sunday's NFL Super Bowl 53 football game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots in Atlanta on Jan. 30, 2019. (David Goldman/AP)
A pedestrian crosses a footbridge decorated with a banner ahead of Sunday's NFL Super Bowl 53 football game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots in Atlanta on Jan. 30, 2019. (David Goldman/AP)

Old versus young. That’s one way to look at the Super Bowl matchup.

On the old — or should we say the experienced — side, you have the Patriots. On the young side, you have the Rams.

One aspect of the Rams game-planning that’s gotten some attention: the plays they name after a wide range of celebrities. Have a listen:

The play names reflect the creative leadership of Sean McVay. On Sunday, the 33-year-old will become the youngest head coach in Super Bowl history. But McVay doesn’t like making a big deal about his age.

“Whether you’re young, whether you’re old, coaching is about listening, learning and then leading," he said. "And I’ve been around a lot of people who can help you do that."

McVay speaks with an energetic intensity. He comes across as thoughtful, even if every sentence sounds like one big run-on. He likes talking about the value of making mistakes and about building relationships and about surrounding yourself with great people.

He also entertains and amazes reporters with his photographic memory for plays from years ago. “It was an offset gun. We called it fake 38," McVay recalled. "It was an option to the left down the left sideline."

He sounds nothing like this:

"Yeah, again, there’s a lot of great things that have happened through the years in this franchise and with our teams. But right now we’re just focused on the Rams."

That’s the unmistakable monotone of Bill Belichick — and his equally unmistakable blinders-on, nothing-but-the-next-game focus.

If the Patriots take home another Lombardi trophy, the 66-year-old Belichick will become the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl.

The age difference between McVay and Belichick is the largest gap between opposing head coaches in Super Bowl history. And with that age gap comes an almost unbelievable experience gap. Some numbers:

  • Belichick is in his 24th season as an NFL head coach. McVay is in his second.
  • Belichick has 291 career wins. McVay has 26.
  • And Belichick is making his ninth Super Bowl appearance as head coach, while McVay is making his first.


Not surprisingly, McVay downplays the value of experience in a Super Bowl setting. And he does it by taking a page straight from Belichick.

"One of the things that I respect that I’ve heard coach Belichick say is how they’re able to operate so consistently every year," he said, "whether they win the Super Bowl or however the season ends, you wipe the slate clean and each year is a new year."

Now, let's look at the quarterbacks. It's 24-year-old Jared Goff versus 41-year-old Tom Brady.

"He was winning Super Bowls when I was young, when I was 7, 8 years old," Goff said.

In the 2016 draft, Goff was the No. 1 pick. Now, he leads the Rams' explosive offensive. He's known for being even-keeled and unfazed by the ups and downs of NFL games. But he's never been to the Super Bowl.

Brady's playoff resume? It’d take too much time to go through it all. But here’s the only bullet point that really matters: He's going for a record-breaking sixth title.

"Tom’s obviously going to go down as the best ever, if not one of, top two, top three. In my opinion, the best ever," Goff said. "He’s a guy that everyone that plays this position has looked up to, at some point in their career."

When it comes to playing Brady in the Super Bowl, what advice would a 7-year-old Goff have given himself?

"He’d be telling the 24-year-old, 'Don’t focus on him. Focus on their defense.' "

And what about from Brady? When asked what advice he would give Goff, Brady said, to laughs: "I’m not giving him any advice."

He's not piling on the praise either. When asked what Goff does really well, Brady simply replied: "He’s a great passer of the football."

That's a veteran move by Brady — not giving anything away.

This segment aired on January 31, 2019.


Headshot of Shira Springer

Shira Springer Sports and Society Reporter
Shira Springer covers stories at the intersection of sports and society.



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