I realized my family’s the most important thing to me in the world. That is my Super Bowl and it will always be my Super Bowl. – Former BYU and Philadelphia Eagle tight end Chad Lewis
PHOENIX — Much like a coach has his bag of tricks to help him come gameday, Chad Lewis has his treasure trove of life lessons football has taught him that aid the former tight end in everyday life.
One of those tough lessons came 10 years ago when Lewis' Philadelphia Eagles faced the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. In the only time Lewis — an undrafted NFL player out of BYU — was a part of a team that made the NFL's championship game, he couldn't play. He was sidelined with a foot injury, and the Eagles ultimately lost to New England, 24-21.
"My whole life I had worked and dreamt about playing in the Super Bowl. Sitting on the sideline with two screws through my foot, I realized that my family was my Super Bowl," Lewis said this week, days before the Patriots seek their first Super Bowl win since that season when they face Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday. "I wouldn’t be able to play in the game, I wouldn’t be able to score touchdowns and help our team win on the field. But I realized my family’s the most important thing to me in the world.
"That is my Super Bowl and it will always be my Super Bowl."
In the Eagles' 27-10 victory over Atlanta in the NFC championship game back in 2005, Lewis caught four passes for 20 yards. He also scored two touchdowns, but injured his foot on the second score.
"It was the play-calling by (then-Eagles head coach) Andy Reid," Lewis said of how he was able to score twice in the NFC title game. "He knew exactly what he wanted to do in the red zone and inside the 5. We put those plays in during the week and we were very confident they would work really nice."
Lewis now serves as associate athletic director of development at his alma mater, BYU. But his football story is one that can provide inspiration. It included Lewis walking on at BYU, then becoming an All-American. At the pro level, he went undrafted, yet turned his fortunes around and became a three-time Pro Bowler.
"Once I realized that I put my uniform on just like a Pro Bowler put his uniform, that I was a talented, deserving player, I didn’t need to be intimidated by anyone or anything and that I had great skill and a lot to offer my team," Lewis said. "Once I realized that, then I was a benefit to my team.
"I think it is such a powerful image for us to realize that we are all walk-ons. We are entitled to nothing. The sooner we learn that we have to work and earn what we get, the better our lives will be."
Lewis' on-field story is over, but it has at least one more Super Bowl chapter for two players who were on the field that day when the Patriots beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl 10 years ago. On Sunday, New England quarterback Tom Brady will play in his sixth Super Bowl. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, a rookie on that Patriots team, will also be there, searching for his second title.
"My first year in the NFL, winning the Super Bowl, I was like, ‘Man, this is easy. I could do this all the time,’ " Wilfork said Wednesday. "And little did I know here I am 11 years later more excited now than then that I’m at this level with my teammates."
Lewis, who authored the book "Surround Yourself with Greatness," is acutely aware of the importance of a strong support system.
"I was surrounded by great teammates, coaches, great family," he said. "I was a product of my environment. But at the same time, I learned along the way about hard work, perseverance and believing in yourself, and those are just as important."
Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @brandonljudd