Pro sports can be a cruel business sometimes. It also can be something which changes someone's life very quickly.
Michael Jordan is looked at as one of the greatest pro athletes of our time, but in the first part of his career, there were many whispers that he couldn't win the big one. After he won a first title, his Bulls captured five more. And there's many other stories like that.
The bottom line is getting to the first Super Bowl (or championship game) seems to be a breakthrough itself, especially in the NFL. Winning the big game takes the team to another level. The Ravens have been very successful during coach John Harbaugh's five years in charge but are still looking for their first Super Bowl trip.
Coming into Sunday's AFC title game with the Patriots, the Ravens are 7-4 in post-season play under Harbaugh, a very good record. But they still haven't made the Super Bowl yet. A loss to New England would drop them to 0-3 in conference title games under Harbaugh. That would add more pressure in the coming seasons, until the Ravens make a Super Bowl.
The Ravens have had one piece of bad luck in these title games -- all have been on the road. A championship game in Baltimore would be a big difference. But that's just the way the ball bounces sometimes.
A win over the Pats this weekend would be huge for the Ravens and Harbaugh. They've come so close so often and keep missing. Remember what happened last year?
The Ravens have plenty of emotion on hand for this game. The Ray Lewis situation brings plenty of power, but the fact that they've just missed a few times adds more.
Everything changed for Jordan when his team finally got to the highest level. It would be the same thing for Harbaugh and the Ravens.