Tuesday, February 06, 2018

What Super Bowl 52 Taught Us About Calculated Risk

I remember one chilly Tuesday as an elementary schooler in Philadelphia. We were allowed to stay home because the hometown Eagles beat Dallas on Monday Night Football the night before. It wasn’t for the East Division title or National Conference championship. It wasn’t even for the final playoff spot. We simply beat Dallas during the peak of the hated Cowboys’ dynasty. That single game made the “Iggles” otherwise forgettable 2-12 season a huge success. At least in the eyes of Principal Warnick.

Fast-forward 40 years later. The Lombardi Trophy finally rests in Philadelphia. Never happened before. In case you missed it, the Super Bowl went down to the final play with the NFL’s winningest quarterback (Brady), coach (Belichick) and franchise (Patriots) trying to pull out one more miracle comeback from their bag of tricks. Eagles Nation was bracing for yet another gut-wrenching disappointment, but the football gods finally got over their grudge against the guys in green. Brady’s 50-yard Hail Mary pass got lost among a sea of arms, legs, hands and elbows and fell harmlessly near the end zone and the clock ran out. No flags on the play! No review! No Buffalo Bills comparisons.

For once, the guys in green and black came out on top. Nick Foles, the humble backup quarterback-turned-Super Bowl hero, simply said, “I didn’t try to be Super Man out there.” Just play the game and trust your teammates, is essentially what Foles added. I don’t think it was an intentional dig at the Hall of Fame-bound opposing quarterback, but Brady didn’t exactly congratulate the Eagles for their victory in his terse, post-game press conference.

Side Note: New York Giants fans, to their credit, have been very gracious to yours truly for the unlikely win by their bitter NFC East rivals.

Not your dad’s NFL title

Sure the Birds won the NFL title back in 1960, but there were only about 10 teams in the league and no such thing as a Super Bowl. I wasn’t born yet, but my dad told me pro football wasn’t that big a deal. You could get cheap walk-up tickets the day of the game at creaky old Franklin Field. He doesn’t recall a ticker tape parade in the Eagles’ honor. It’s going to be a little different on Thursday morning with over 2 million green-clad supporters on hand to salute their heroes and/or take advantage of the free Bud Light along the South Philadelphia parade route.

Living between NYC and Boston the past two decades, I’ve endured countless Super Bowl victories, World Series titles and Stanley Cup hoists by the hometown teams. In 1994, I accidentally stumbled into the NY Rangers parade in lower Manhattan and sort of got caught up in the excitement. It didn’t last. I’ve tried to root for the hometown boys, but old habits are hard to break. Do I have a perpetual chip on my shoulder? Yep. Does the city of Philadelphia? Yo!

We like it that way. The Eagles (and their raucous) fans will never be confused with the Chicago Cubbies and Boston Sox--“lovable losers” who endured over a century of futility before using sophisticated analytics and a business-like approach to the game to end their respective championship droughts. Eagles fans taking losing very personally.

Underdogs, Not!

Sure, the Eagles wore the underdog label like a badge of honor, but they are a shrewdly run organization that spends big bucks to sign high priced stars, between (and during) each season. Sure they started the season at 60-1 odds to win the Super Bowl. But, The Philadelphia Eagles Professional Football Club, Inc. uses sophisticated data mining and decision-making algorithms to exploit opponents weaknesses and to determine when to gamble on gutsy 4th down plays and two-point conversion attempts….and when not to.

Data analytics is also what allowed the Eagles to diversity their portfolio of players with enough “Next Man Up” talent to overcome the loss of nine opening day starters, including their MVP quarterback Carson Wentz.

As with the stock market, information moves at lightning speed in the NFL. Most teams will start emulating the Eagles’ use of data analysis, calculated risk taking and roster-stacking. They may not be able to manufacture the same team chemistry, but it won’t be easy for Philly to stay ahead of the pack, even with a full healthy roster next year. That’s what makes the Patriots’ recent dynasty so impressive in this data-driven free-agency environment.


As with the long-running bull market, the Patriots dynasty may be losing some steam, but the team will be back among the contenders next year--with or without the game’s greatest quarterback and supporting cast. Same goes for stocks. In fact, 80 percent of you told us in our fall 2017 Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey that you expected a 10-15 percent correction in 2018. That’s what gave me the courage to post Is the Miraculous Market/Economy Coming Back to Earth?  last Monday when the Dow was over 26K.

Stocks will take some healthy hits this year, but in the long run, they’ll remain the top contender in the asset-class competition for investors’ money. Just remember they’re a risk asset, not a savings bond. You can review this call as often as you like. It won’t be overturned. Principal Warnick said so.

TAGS: Stock market correction, Super Bowl, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles, risk management

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