Lessons in the game of life

I am an accidental football fan. That is to say, if I want to communicate—really communicate—with my sons and husband during football season, I need to know something about what happens on Sundays—and now, apparently, Mondays, and Thursdays, too.

I also live in Seattle and I'm happy to admit I’ve been swept up in the 12th man craze. This means that:

  • I own a Seahawks t-shirt and two hats 
  • I know Pete Carroll’s history and coaching philosophy 
  • I can identify more than a few of the players 

So like the majority of Seattle, my family was ready for action yesterday, feeling confident and ready to pull down the big win. And the win we got—but it wasn’t pretty.

As miraculous and as wonderful as that improbable win was, what I find most amazing are the life lessons that, at least to me, revealed themselves in this football game—moment by moment, play by play. Here are a few that resonated with me:

  1. It’s not always smart to play it too safe
    Early in the game, Green Bay opted to kick field goals instead of going for the touchdowns, which ended up costing them 8 big points and a potential 24-0 lead at the half. 
  2. Be creative in the clutch
    Down 16-0, the Seahawks executed a gutsy fake field goal, with the touchdown pass thrown by John Ryan and received by Gary Gilliam (an undrafted rookie offensive lineman). These guys went outside their comfort zone and it paid off. 
  3. Don’t always trust the numbers (or, it’s not over until it’s over)
    With about 5 minutes left and a significant lead, Green Bay’s Morgan Burnett picked off Russell’s pass and instead of running it down the field and gain yardage, he simply slid to a stop. At that point, people say there was a 96% probability that Green Bay had the victory and Burnett’s action—or lack thereof—reflected that. Clearly, the Seahawks had other plans. 
  4. Know your job responsibilities and execute, execute, execute
    After the Seahawks made an onside kick with 2 minutes left to play, Bryan Bostick, Green Bay’s tight end, instead of blocking the opponent, decided to attempt to catch the bobbling, bouncing ball himself—instead of his colleague, the wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Scant seconds later, after the ball had not only slid through Bostick’s hands but also bounced off his helmet, it landed safely in the hands of the Seahawk Chris Matthews. 
  5. Believe in yourself, your team, and your fellow teammates
    This lesson was infused the entire game (okay, for the Hawks, mostly in the game’s last five minutes) but reflected most clearly in the overtime’s final play. Up until that point, Jermaine Kearse had played a dismal game—connecting with no passes (and allowing four balls to be intercepted). Even with that, Russell Wilson still targeted Kearse for the final pass, and as it turned out, game-winning touchdown.  
  6. Focus on NOW—not the past nor the future—and be relentlessly positive
    This is surely how the team pulled off this miraculous victory—taking each play as it happened, experiencing things going terribly wrong, time and time again. And yet- even when the numbers said they couldn’t—they still believed they could win. Fans left the stadium (darn!), pundits counted them out, and yet—they remained positive, without doubt, steadfast. 

So off go the Seahawks to Arizona—their second Super Bowl in a row. And yes, I’ll be watching—hoping to learn more about this game, to experience some good competition and hopefully watch our team get the win. But either way, I’m sold on the Hawks—the guys, their coach, and their outlook on football and on life.