If ever one could see into the mind of a professional athlete, undoubtedly that brain would be littered with slights -- perceived or otherwise -- keeping fresh the motivation to pursue greatness.
Ask any successful athlete, and they'll tell you they remember losses more vividly than victories. It's a dichotomy of the mind that fuels the pursuit of glory. The fear of failure can be a more significant motivator than the sweet nectar of victory.
Every slight is magnified in the mind of a pro athlete. The phrase bulletin board material isn't cliché by accident.
Super Bowl LV provided us with the latest reminder that slights don't go unnoticed. They stew.
In the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Week 12 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Tyreek Hill went off for 200-plus yards in the first quarter, including a deep TD in which he put up his trademark "peace" sign to Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr. On another TD in that game, Hill did a back-flip into the end zone with Winfield in chase.
The rookie didn't forget.
So, late in the Bucs blowout Super Bowl win Sunday, after Tampa's defense got a fourth-down stop, Winfield stood directly in front of Hill and put up his own peace sign in the face of the wideout. Tampa's D had held Hill to seven catches for 73 yards, most coming in garbage time. Winfield was flagged for taunting, a meaningless penalty given the time and score, and one well worth it for the safety.
"The taunting, it was something I just had to do," Winfield said. "When we played them earlier, Hill went off on us. He back-flipped in front of my face and gave me the peace sign. So it was only right that I gave him the peace sign right back to him at this moment. It felt amazing to be able to do that. I'm not even gonna lie."
He who laughs last laughs best, they say.
Winfield got the last laugh this season on the biggest stage. And it was well worth it for the Bucs.