USA TODAY Sports
It's the last evening before the San Francisco 49ers compete for the Lombardi Trophy. And tomorrow, each individual in the organization has a chance to accomplish a life goal.
For the die hards, your heart feels like it's lingering weightless inside your chest, while your stomach is in knots. And why wouldn't you feel that way when your soldiers are about to go to war?
Whether you're early risers or night owls, it's hard not to feel the gravity of tomorrow's game. It's the biggest sporting event in the United States and for those involved, this is the moment their entire lives have been building toward.
Whether it's Jim Tomsula living out of his car, working multiple jobs to provide for his family just so he could coach football. Or Ahmad Brooks who overcame the "character issue" tag, injuries and unfortunate timing to earning All-Pro honors and a fat salary.
The point is that individually and collectively, this group has seen some hard times and they've overcome mountains of adversity to get to where they are. For some, it's a shock that they are even in the NFL -- but this is the Super Bowl. Everyone of them that ever put on pads at least thought of this moment, perhaps daydreaming as a youth.
And maybe that's what Jim Harbaugh was trying to get at when he posted each player's high school recruitment photo over their lockers. But I digress.
All week in front of the media in New Orleans, they said it was just another game and that they just had to treat it as the next challenge. But this moment is way bigger than that, and it holds even more true for players like Frank Gore, Justin Smith or Randy Moss.
Even someone like Donte Whitner who has come a long way since being exiled from Buffalo.
So for a lot of these guys, come Sunday, they will be playing like there is no tomorrow. And that's because this is everything. Every OTA session, every practice, every scribbled injury report, every booked flight, every speech-- it's all been for the chance to compete and attain the most coveted trophy in all of sports.
That moment has actually come; it's within reach. The blue-collar work shirts and the blue-collar mentality has earned them a right to compete for a Lombardi. And having been on the opposite end of the spectrum, they know this kind of opportunity doesn't come about that often.
This will be a career-defining game for nearly everyone involved.
But at least I know that on Sunday night, whatever the outcome, I can fall asleep comforted by the fact the 49ers gave it everything they had and they deserved to represent the NFC this year.