After all the hype, after Madonna, after dozens of brand-establishing commercials, after 59 minutes of smash-mouth football, a comedy of failed strategy is what concluded this year’s Super Bowl.
One minute of regulation play remains. The team from New York trails the team from New England by two points and is a mere six yards outside of the end zone. As the players line up for second down, the call comes from the defensive coach: “Let them score.”
Eleven menacing and (now slightly confused) defensive players step aside to give an equally confused running back a wide berth to the end zone.
Not to be outstrategized, the cerebral quarterback shouts to his teammate, “Don’t score! Don’t score!”
The running back tries to stop, but his momentum is too much. What turns out to be the game-winning touchdown is an awkward, butt-first fall into the end zone.
So what lessons does this year’s game have for aspiring youth and coaches? If you’re on defense, don’t try to tackle the ballcarrier. If you’re on offense, don’t try to score a touchdown.
As the team from New York ekes out a victory, I think of the many times I have outsmarted myself in the waning moments of my own life’s games. I make the contract too complicated or I second-guess the intentions of a friend. Often, rather than acting instinctively, I attempt to capture some inconsequential advantage and wind up on my butt.
So my takeaway from Super Bowl XLVI?
Just play the game.