Super Bowl lesson: Rankings aren't everything

If last night's Super Bowl taught us anything, it's that stars don't always mean anything.

I love stories like the ones we saw in last night's Super Bowl thriller.

I'm not talking about the main story: The New England Patriots over the Seattle Seahawks. My Steelers weren't playing, so I could care less which team won the game.

No, I'm talking about the other stories, the personal ones. Malcolm Butler over Popeye's. Chris Matthews over Foot Locker.

Think about the stars of the biggest game in sports. There were undrafted free agents. There were sparingly-used specialists. There was an undersized wide receiver (Julian Edelman). There was the undersized quarterback Seattle was loudly criticized for drafting (Russell Wilson). There was a sixth-round pick winning his fourth Super Bowl (Tom Brady).

In the biggest moments, things become surprisingly simple: Who will make the play? Everything else goes out the window. What you were doing 12 months ago doesn't matter. What your role was in the game plan doesn't matter. How many scholarship offers you had out of high school, what you did in college, how many stars you received from the recruiting services ... none of that stuff matters. Can you make a play when it matters most? Can you be a star when your team needs you most?

These are, after all, among the chief reasons we love sports.

Among my responsibilities at is to evaluate talent. To decide, without really knowing the person, if he can play, or if he can't. Who does he play like? Is he better than that guy? How does his game translate?

I like to think I've gotten pretty good at it and that I've got a decent eye for talent. But while I may be right on many kids, there are many that I'm wrong on. There are those that I miss. There are some that develop later, some that get overlooked. It's part of the business.

The point is, recruiting rankings are nice and all, but they don't mean as much as we like to believe they do. Last night showed us that. This is a message to every high school kid out there, whether you're highly regarded or not. Never stop working, never stop believing that you can play because of what other people say about you. Don't let a ranking get you too high, or a lack of one get you too low. You always have the chance to write your own story. Nobody else can write it for you, unless you allow them to.

Yesterday, nobody was talking about Malcolm Butler. Or Chris Matthews. Today, they are.

Where would those guys be if they believed what other said about them? Top Stories