Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

January 7, 2020

The Greatest Sports Comeback Story And 3 Secrets To Winning All High-Performers Live By.

High performance. You know it when you see it.

It’s one of those stories you can tell a dozen times and still be excited each time. It’s captivating to watch. More of an experience than just an event or an occasion.

The comeback story of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at Superbowl LI is one of the most improbable wins in an American football championship ever.

Chances are — you probably watched it.

It was late in the championship game on February 5, 2017, when the Patriots faced a 4th-and-3 at their own 46-yard line down 28-3 with 6:04 left in the third quarter. It seemed like game over. They seemed absolutely dead in the water.

According to Pro Football Reference, the Patriots odds at that point of pulling off the comeback were less 0.5%.

But Brady found Danny Amendola with a short pass to convert the 4th down, beginning what would become an almost unbelievable series of events.

After scoring just 3 points in the entire first half, Brady led 5 consecutive scoring drives after halftime, including 2 touchdown drives (both followed by successful two-point conversions) in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.

In overtime, Brady completed 5 straight passes to get close to the end zone before James White scored on a 2-yard touchdown to claim the win.

No other team has ever achieved a 25-point comeback in a championship game like this. It’s a level of high performance that won’t be easy to match ever.

But it’s certainly not the greatest football comeback story of all time.

And not the greatest comeback by points in a championship series. That story — and that record — belongs to Frank Reich.

Warren Moon and the Oilers had the 1993 NFL Playoffs in hand when, two minutes into the third quarter, the score was 35-3. A complete blow-out. With a depleted Buffalo Bills offense — both superstar players Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas were injured — the Bills had little chance to win this game.

That is, until the Bill’s backup quarterback, Frank Reich, began an unthinkable series of amazing plays.

With the score 35-10, Buffalo recovered an onside kick and Reich threw a 38-yard bomb to Don Beebe to make it 35-17. It didn’t stop there.

Five unanswered Reich touchdowns put the Bills ahead, but at the last minute, the Oilers tied it up with a field goal.

In overtime, Nate Odomes picked off Warren Moon to set up the most improbable of victories and the greatest NFL comeback in history.

The final score: 41-38 for the Bills.

But appreciating this comeback requires that you know a little bit more about who Frank Reich really was.

Frank Reich was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the third round, 57th overall, in the 1985 NFL Draft. The Bills already had drafted future Hall of Famer Jim Kelly in 1983 and when Kelly signed with the Bills in 1986, Reich’s only option was as backup QB.

Reich got his first start only after Kelly went down with a shoulder injury in 1989 — after more than 3 years of only playing a supporting role. And he took advantage of the opportunity.

In front of a Rich Stadium crowd of more than 76,000 fans and a Monday Night Football audience, Reich led the Bills to two straight victories. He rallied the Bills in the fourth quarter by throwing two drives down the field for a 23-20 victory over the previously unbeaten Los Angeles Rams.

Reich returned to find himself the backup the following season; however, when Kelly was injured again late in the season Reich provided the Bills with another two key wins, clinching them the AFC East title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Three years later, he would lead that improbable come-from-behind victory over Warren Moon in the 1993 NFL Playoffs.

High performance. Most of us don’t know how to describe it any other way.

Is it a comeback? An underdog story? Pure passion? Being awesome?

The truth is that it looks like a lot of things. That’s why it can be so hard to explain. Even harder to do. Which brings us back to living — high-performance living.

What is high-performance living? And how can you do it?

Here are some observations for you about completing your own comeback story.

1. You are going to have to fail a lot more than you are right now.

When you fail and it starts to look like success to those around you, you know that you
are a high performer. Look. Let’s get real frank, real fast. Life isn’t a competition with anyone other than the rock star that you are intended to be.

If you think that I am advocating that you look around and compare yourself to anyone else, you are dead wrong. You know better than that already. That’s a complete waste of time.

Here is what I’m trying to say. High performers look at failure as a step closer to success. It’s not an act. It’s a way of life. Rejection and loss are not endpoints. They are guideposts.

High-performance living requires the discipline to look at each opportunity in life and say “What can I do differently the next time?”.

Here’s a reality — there might be a time where there is nothing you could have done better. But I haven’t had one of those moments yet. When I am brutally honest about my own performance I have always found 3-4 tiny mistakes that all contributed to my failure.

Maybe you are the same.

2. You won’t make progress until you get radical with your perspective and activity

You have to know going in that it’s going to be rough. Rougher and tougher than anything you have ever allowed yourself to imagine before.

There is a reason that we call this the top 1%. The air is thin at the top. And not because your nose is out of joint. Because you are pumping your knees so hard you can barely breathe.

You have to be ready to work harder than you ever imagined — and then double that.

Listen, you can lead a pretty safe life by working a guaranteed 35 hours a week. You will have plenty to time for all your hobbies without the stress of having to change the world or achieving progress toward your goals.

But high performance requires working smarter and harder.

  • You need radical effort: Are you willing to put in more value and passion than anyone else?
  • You need radical creativity: Are you willing to think differently about your situation than you have done before?
  • You need radical discipline: Are you willing to quit letting your immediate feelings stop you from realizing your long-term goals?

In this age of tolerance and equality, it is might seem like heresy to suggest that you need to be different. Radically different.

But that’s the only sure path to high-performance living. There is no other way.

3. You have to believe you can even when you can’t see how.

You can only achieve what you believe. The battle for high performance is won long before you ever go through the motions of winning. It’s all in your head.

Your dreams. Your fears. They are all part of what you will ever achieve. High performers think about high performance. It’s that simple.

They think. They obsess. They plan for high-performance selling.

  • They don’t stay paralyzed by fear — they act.
  • They don’t wonder — they discover.
  • They don’t doubt — they try.

It’s a fundamental difference between those who envy and those who are. It’s all in your head long before it ever happens.

And because it is all that is in your head — you living not being controlled by fears or doubts or questions — that is all you have time to act on.

And what a powerful difference that makes.

By the way, if you think a few comebacks is the end of the story for Frank Reich, think again.

After retiring from playing professionally, Reich became a coach for the Indianapolis Colts where he personally trained and mentored Hall of Fame Quarterback, Peyton Manning. Who took what he learned from Reich to the next level.

By the time he finished his 18-year professional career, Manning would claim many NFL records, including the most MVP awards (5), the most Pro Bowl appearances (14), the most 4,000-yard passing seasons (14), the most passing yards and the most passing touchdowns in a single-season (both in 2013).

He is a two-time Super Bowl championship winner and the most valuable player of Super Bowl XLI, Manning is also the only quarterback to start the Super Bowl for two franchises more than once each and the only starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two franchises.

At the time, he was the oldest quarterback in sporting history to win the championship.

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.