Superbowl 49 was one for the books.
The game came down to the final minute and what look like a sure touchdown resulted in a huge let down for the defending champs The Seattle Seahawks.
As Patriots Rookie Malcom Butler leaped in the air to intercept what would have been the game winning touchdown for Seattle, you could feel the energy as Patriots Nation went wild and Seahawks Nation dropped their heads. So close but no cigar. What happened?
Pete Carroll, coach of the Seahawks blamed himself for the call while QB Russell Wilson took the blame for not executing. The truth is, while both may have been responsible, people failed to factor in the “x” factor…things BEYOND our control. I wonder how many people would be criticizing his call if Seattle scored the TD and won the Superbowl. My guess, not many. The “experts” wondered why Seattle didn’t just go with Marshawn Lynch as if to say this would have been the “guaranteed TD.” Sorry to tell you folks, but even that’s not guaranteed. NOTHING IS beyond the fact that if you are breathing right now, there will come a point where you will take your last breath.
After listening to commentator after commentator question Coach Carroll’s call, it made me think of how similar things like this often occur in life off the football field.
1. Life is risky. Some risks work out in our favour while others serve as learning lessons. Take the risk anyway.
2. People will always have something to say about you whether you do something or you don’t, say something or say nothing. Stand up for what you believe in. Stand up for who you believe in.
3. Red light. Green light. Though we’d like to believe that our lives are made up of all green lights, it is a mix of red lights and green lights that build our character and create our legacy (you can read the expanded version here). This season, Seattle got the red light and New England got the green.
4. Life occurs one decision at a time. You can either face it in fear or face it in faith. The choice is yours.
5. While we may face moments of disappointment, may it not blind us from celebrating the accomplishments of others. And when we are the ones celebrating, may we not use it as means to gloat over others. Celebration and compassion go hand in hand.
6. The slingshot effect. God likes close games. God likes using underdogs. God always has the final say. As the game clock came ticking down and Seattle look like they were going to come from behind to win the game, something remarkable happened and it featured an unknown rookie. Malcolm Butler entered the NFL as an undrafted (meaning no team picked him) free agent. In 40 seconds, he went from zero to hero, from rookie to rockstar, sealing the victory for his team. Before his game-winning interception, Butler found himself on the receiving end of what looked like a set up for Seahawks victory. Seattle QB Russell Wilson launched the ball in the air towards Jermaine Kearse and as he went to catch it, he collided with Malcolm Butler. As the ball look like it was going to drop, Kearse managed to keep it in the air long enough to catch it. The next play put Seattle mere feet away from the end zone and Butler knew that Seattle was thisclose to sealing their fate as repeating NFL Super Bowl champs. He found himself “devastated” as he describes it (here) and went to the sidelines thinking that this was going to be his fault. In that moment of fear, he found himself replaying what his Coach Bill Belichick told the team earlier “When you’re out there today and you find yourself thinking about the future, go back to the present. Play the next play.”
For Butler, it look like he was being pulled back. He went undrafted. He had to try out to even be on the Patriots team. And now his play with a minute to go looks like it is going to result in his teams defeat. The thing is, though circumstances may present themselves as one way, the game is not over until it is over. Every. Second. Counts. And we just never know when our slingshot is going to be released. Forty seconds after the “devastating” moment, Malcolm Butler made a heroic interception. He remembered what his coach said and instead of playing in fear he played in faith.
On this day, February 3rd, no matter what you and I are facing in life whether it be a football game, our finances, relationships, health, careers, spirituality, etc., may we remember the words of Coach Belichick and just “Play the next play.”