I love the game of football – not just as a spectator, but as a player. Being a proud Patriots fan, I sported my newly acquired “Wifey” jersey with #17 (the date of my recent wedding) on the back and settled in with the husband for Super Bowl 51.
The Patriots retribution season was looking bleak at half time, but a historic comeback miracle was in the works. The second half shook things up with a responsive drive by James White to make the game 28-9. But the real turning point came with Matt Ryan’s fumble followed by Edelman’s epic catch. With only 0:57 remaining on the clock, the Patriots had done it. They fought their way out of a 25-point deficit to tie up Super Bowl 51.
This crazy comeback made me think of the idea that “it’s not over until it’s over” and I was reminded of Al Pacino’s half time speech in Any Given Sunday:
“You find out that life is just a game of inches. So is football. Because in either the game life or football, the margin for error is so small. I mean one half step too late or to early you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow or too fast and you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game, every minute, every second.”
Like I said, I love the game of football and the parallels with life, marketing and business. If you look at businesses in Calgary through the lens of Super Bowl 51 – we may be down but we’re not out. We’re on the 30-yard line and it’s third down.
Huddle the team and evaluate the play options. You know you need points on the board but do you have the right information in front of you to make the call. Is it worth gambling a running play to gain a first down or is it time for special teams to come in? The clock is ticking and the risk of a delay of game penalty will put you out of field goal range. What do you do? It’s what you decide to do in this moment that will make the difference.
Sometimes the toughest part of being a leader is admitting when you need help. Calling a time out is the right call, giving you and your team time to consult with the coaching staff. It takes the emotion out of the call, re-grounding you with the facts.
The verdict is in. It’s time to call in special teams and go for the field goal attempt. Special teams are just that – specialized professionals who come in when the standard play calls aren’t producing results. Accounting for 20% of a game, they are your support team, driving toward the same end goal. They are there to get some points on the board with a sure-fire play that will shift the momentum of the game.
Maintain your field position and remember: on your next offensive drive, it’s the team to the right and the left of you, the goal ahead of you and the perseverance to do the work that will make it happen. Do the work. Run the plays. Use the special teams when you need to. Find the openings and go for the end zone. Challenge yourself to stare at the inches around you and write your own comeback story.
And remember, it’s not over until it’s over.