What the 49ers (and the Superbowl) Teach Us About Recovery

The 49ers have arrived in New Orleans, home of the 2013 Super Bowl. Their arrival will eventually climax into one of the most anticipated moments of the year. You know, that moment when half of the American population will be glued to the big screen, watching Kaepernick lead the 49ers to victory (or so we hope)!

But as we sit on the couch Sunday afternoon, we can also be reminded of something else—our recovery. Did you know that the characteristics of a first-class football team is similar to the principles of a successful recovery?

What? You say. Perhaps it takes a lot of imagination to see a connection between sweaty men fighting for a ball at the most important game of the year and the Twelve Steps, but if you remember Vince Lombardi’s famous quote, it doesn’t seem so far off:

Football is like life—it requires perseverance, self-denial, hardwork, sacrifice, dedication, and respect for authority.”

Lombardi’s quote nails it. Football teaches us a lot of good principles about life, but football can also teach us something about recovery, because recovery is a way of life.

Here’s how a successful football team and a successful recovery are the same.

Recovery, like football, requires a good team.

No matter how good your quarterback is, he will never be able to win alone. Football is not a one-man show. You need a team to win, a team of individuals who are skilled, talented, and cooperative. Bad players will hurt the team; good ones can lead the team to victory.

And it’s the same with recovery. Your team is your support group, the people at your Twelve Step meetings, and your recovery family. Like football, recovery is not a one-man show.

Trying to recover without a support group is like trying to win a football game with one player.  This is why it is so important to attend A.A. meetings and surround yourself with friends who will encourage and help you in your recovery. Building a team—the right team—of people can make all the difference in the world.

Recovery, like football, requires a good coach.

In football, a team often has the raw talent or ability, but it is a coach who channels that talent into a victory. He is the teacher, the guidance, the master playmaker, and the inspiration. A good coach makes a good team.

In recovery, your coach is your sponsor who acts as your mentor, friend, and responsibility partner and helps you to navigate the landscape of recovery. Statistics show that sponsors can significantly boost the success rates for programs like A.A.

A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.” –Tom Landry

Football, like recovery, requires a strategy.

Football is a game of strategic plays and complex tactics. You don’t win without a plan. Each team designs hundreds of diagramed plays for specific situations, but these aren’t always fixed in stone. During the game, the strategies might be altered to adjust for the other team’s strengths or weaknesses. The best teams have the most strategic plays that can flex to adapt to the situation. So talent is how you play, but strategy is how you win.

Recovery is the same way. You wont’ succeed in recovery unless you have a plan, and the purpose of rehab is to help you develop that plan. The training, counseling, and education offered during your treatment at Duffy’s are all just part of a bigger picture: the strategy to achieve lifelong sobriety. At Duffy’s you’ll receive an individualized treatment plana relapse prevention plan, and an exit strategy as all part of your treatment. Just like football training season, rehab is the place of preparation for the journey ahead.

Recovery, like football, requires effort.

Someone once said that football players aren’t born, they’re made. Those who truly want to be good will work for it. They will get on the field and practice for hours and days and weeks and months and even years.

As Lombardi said, it takes “perseverance, self-denial, hardwork, sacrifice, and dedication.” (Notice he didn’t even say talent. Talent is important, but talent means nothing unless it is brought forth and polished.)

The same is true with recovery. Certain aspects of recovery may come easier for certain people, but recovery will always take effort and hardwork, passion and perseverance, self-responbonsitiliy, and courage. You may not be tackling another team, but you are still fighting a battle—the battle against self, which is the hardest battle of all.

Recovery, like football, is worth the effort.

Nobody on the 49ers is going to regret the time and effort it took to get to the Super Bowl. And nobody who is sober will say they regret the time and effort they have poured into recovery. A life free from addiction is worth every tear shed and every penny spent.

Success comes from taking one day at a time, and victory is gained one decision at a time. Recovery may be a journey, but every step will be worth it.

Join the Team!

If you or a loved one is struggling in their recovery, the team at Duffy’s is ready to help. You can give us a call at 707.200.6968, or chat with a live counselor on our website.

  • If you’re interested in working out your recovery muscles, you can check out Duffy’s Sobriety Weekends.
  • If you or a loved one is looking help and treatment, check out our programs, and get ready to start the most exciting journey of your life.