Snatching Defeat From The Jaws of Victory

Lessons learned from Super Bowl XLIX

In a game that seemed almost scripted for the theatre that is the NFL, everyone got all they had hoped for. Super Bowl XLIX was a back and forth gridiron battle right down to the wire. The advertisers were elated because no one was turning off the TV – even to the very end. It was a magical night for football followers.

The final dramatic act would have everyone talking and proclaiming the Seattle Seahawks back-to-back Super Bowl champs. Following an improbable reception that amazed everyone involved, the reigning champions had the ball 2nd-and-goal from the one-yard line with 20 seconds left in the game. With three chances from the one there was simply no way the beastly running back Marshawn Lynch was not going to get the ball in for the score.

But, there was a way…

In what is being called the worst coaching call in the history of professional football the Seahawks coaching staff calls a pass that ends with an interception and a loss. The discussion of this foolish decision will drone on for a long time and deservedly so. Someone rightly quipped “the decision to ignore Marshawn Lynch might turn Brady and Belichick into the best ever.”

Certainly there are some life lessons we can learn from this last minute mistake.

First, don’t take anything for granted. I think the Seattle coaching staff was convinced that they had three chances to get the ball into the end zone. There was a sense of pride that they could outsmart their opponent. If the pass were not complete, it would stop the clock and they would start over. In life we must never live for second chances. We are reminded in scripture that second chances are never guaranteed. Life each day of your life for the glory of God and never put off until tomorrow what you should do today.

Second, don’t forget the basics. Without question, Lynch is one of the most powerful running backs in the game today. Most agree that he could gain a couple of yards with nearly all the opposing team holding on to him. He’s made a career of it. The decision to pass the ball is, without a question, more about the coach than the team. The coaching staff was saying “we have a better way.” In life we must remember to stay true to the basics of life. We should not be looking to reinvent the wheel. Continue to excel in the basics rather than trying to make a name for yourself. When the game becomes more about you than about the team it’s already lost. The bible says, “Pride comes before the fall.”

Third, remember to make wise decisions. In leadership it is imperative to operate from a position of wisdom rather than emotion. Pete Carroll did not exercise wisdom on Sunday. Rather, he opted to the emotional side of his brain that would have everyone talking about his “brilliance and coaching genius.” Sometimes the risk is worth the reward, but most often reward comes as the result of diligence and discipline. You and I have the opportunity to operate from a position of strength when we walk in the way of the Lord and live in the light of His word.

As you strive to be an excellent leader always remember that eyes will always be looking in your direction. Show that you are more concerned about the victory than getting the credit. Exalt and elevate all those in your charge and give them the best opportunity to succeed. It’s something that the Seahawks missed.