What follows victory?

Next stop: Perfection?

It was a sure thing for many people that the New England Patriots would go undefeated this past season. They appeared in five conference championship games and four Super Bowls from 2001-2007.

The Patriots were relentless all season. They beat teams by shameful margins and made large, brawny men cry. Presumably, they were an unstoppable machine. That’s until their last test in Super Bowl XLII.

Theirs was a David-and-Goliath-type of story that ended with the New York Giants winning, upsetting much of the sports world.

It’s funny, a similar thing happened in 1991 – The Giants were underdogs coming into Super Bowl XXV but beat the Buffalo Bills 20-19.

I was in kindergarten during Super Bowl XXV. I remember Ms. Bird and naptime, but other details are very sketchy.

Oddly enough, I distinctly remember bragging to classmates that I was at the game. My brother, who would be upset if he read this, was in the halftime show dressed in a leotard, representing France, while Michael Jackson sang “We Are the World.”

I was a giant that day at school. What 5-year-old had a better story than that?

Looking back at Super Bowl XXV, I realized that it marked the beginning of my schooling, while Super Bowl XLII marks the end. Some doubted I would make it this far and tried to implant a lack of confidence within me.

Some people tried to write me off as a problem child. I don’t like getting in trouble, but I also don’t like many of the parameters that school sets.

“Tuck in your shirt.” “Don’t talk in class.” “Geometry is too difficult for you.”

Freshman year, someone advised that I take 15 credit hours in order to graduate “on time.” What exactly is “on time?” And on whose time? “On time” sounded like another parameter to me.

Needless to say, I took less than 15 credit hours. Five years later I have reached the mountaintop of graduation. Strangely, I don’t feel like a champion. The peak of the game is supposed to be victory, right?

People also tried to set parameters for the Giants. “You can’t win without Phil Simms.” “You won’t win with Eli Manning.” “The Patriots cannot be beaten.”

College is like the Super Bowl. The Giants won and so have I.

History shows teams usually have bad seasons following championship seasons. What does this say about life after graduation?

Although many teams never make it to a championship game, there is only one rule to doing it: win enough games. But how do you have a winning season after a championship year?

Tomorrow may be uncertain, but at least I am leaving school a giant.