Winning a title is the ultimate accomplishment in sports. After all, it is what they play for (or at least it should be, but we all know money plays a role). But after winning one, the question that pops up in most people’s minds is, can they repeat the feat? Is it possible to not only return to the Championship Game, but win it?
Repeating is one of the tougher things to do, in all of sports. Not only do you have to win a first time, but you must bring it back and do it all over again.
In the NFL, the last 2 teams to repeat were the Patriots (of course led by Tom Brady) in 2004 and 2005. In the NHL, the Penguins did it in 2016 & 2017, but you must go all the way back to 1997 & 1998 and the Red Wings for second repeat. In baseball, the Yankees three-peated (thank you Pat Riley for the word), back in 1998-2000 and before that, it was the Blue Jay in 1992 & 1993.
It seems that it may be a tad easier in the NBA for some reason, as the Warriors did it in 2017 & 2018 and before that, it was the Heat in 2012 & 2013. I think the reason for the relative ease of going back-to-back in the NBA is that in hoops, more than any other sport, one player has a greater effect on the game than in the other sports.
But still, getting a repeat champion is not the easiest task in the world. There are really four good reasons for this:
- When a team wins a title, they form a bond that helps them reach their goal. Each player knows his specific role with the team, and no matter how great others on the squad may be, it takes everyone pulling in the same direction to eventually win. Which means that having the entire team come back to give it another shot is truly paramount in trying to win But once a team has won, many of the players feel that their worth also goes up, and currently of the salary cap, it becomes tougher to retain all the players that helped win the title to begin with.
- Another key ingredient in winning a title, is getting some breaks along the way, that you cannot always count on happening again. That is not to say that the team is not good enough in its own right, or that they didn’t create their own breaks. But, for instance, what are the chances that a team will play a team that’s under .500 in the first round, a team who’s starting QB and possibly its best player was playing with broken ribs in the Divisional Round and finally in the Championship game, what are the chances that the coverage would break down so much just before halftime, that the wideouts could get behind the secondary and score a touchdown.
- Next reason is that in a season before you win, every team treats you like that is the team you are. But when you’re the defending champs, you have a bullseye on your back. You get every teams best effort to beat After all, a team may not be able to make the postseason but being able to defeat the defending champs is a feather in the cap that can’t be taken away.
- Finally, and probably the toughest reason why repeating isn’t easy is hunger. When you are looking for that first title, there is a hunger that burns deep inside you, that pushes you game after game to play your hardest no matter Once you have that title, a small sense of complacency can set in, and no matter how hard you try, that burning desire just isn’t there. Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw may be one of the most competitive athletes on any field of play, but after finally winning the World Series with the Dodgers last year, Kershaw said “I wasn’t as enthused. To get back going again, which is a good thing … Every off-season in the past it’s been ‘I just want to get this done. I just want to do it. And there’s this passion that builds and builds and builds. And now, that is gone, there is just pressure to win because we have a great team.” If Kershaw has a tough time getting up for a repeat, I can imagine quite a few of those Buccaneers have lost that hunger too.
Now the question becomes, is this Tampa team good enough to overcome those issues and repeat as back-to-back NFL champions? The one thing they have in their favor is a guy named Brady playing the most important position on the field in QB. He has been there, done that, and even though he no longer has anything left to prove, he is a guy that always seems to have that hunger.
But the salary cap in the NFL is scheduled to go down this year for the first time, and with 30 potential free agents, it is tough to see this team bringing back the whole gang. LB’s Shaq Barrett and Lavonte David, DT Ndamukong Suh, RB Leonard Fournette and WR Chris Godwin are just some of the key names that are scheduled to be free once the new league year begins.
Add that to the fact that the NFC is loaded with “super teams” like the Rams with Matt Stafford under center and a defense that is downright scary. The Packers, who will be out for revenge. The Saints, who are in their own division and feel like they have something to prove, and of course a Cardinals team that seems to get better and better with each passing year.
Even if the Bucs get passed all of that, there will still be one more team standing in their way. That AFC team could very well be a rematch against a motivated Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs team that felt humiliated in their 31-9 loss to the Bucs in Super Bowl LV, or a Bills or Ravens team that have downright frightening offenses too.
So, the point is, if I am making a bet on Tampa vs the field, you would be a fool to take anything but the field. The odds are totally stacked against them, from inside forces as well as other teams. Can the Buccaneers repeat? When you have Brady on your side, it would seem anything is possible. Will they repeat? I would give that a resounding no.