Channeling Belichick

I’m not exactly a football fan. I’m pretty sure the 2015 Super Bowl was the first complete game I’ve ever watched (as long as you don’t count that quick trip to the grocery store for ice cream). And that wasn’t actually by choice; I was supposed to be flying home, not “stuck” in Fort Lauderdale thanks to the latest Northeast snowstorm.

So it surprises me to be writing a post about football.

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Late in that game, a decision was made by the Patriots not to call a timeout. I definitely didn’t notice it at the time, but the next day the after-pundits made hay. USA Today said, “By the Pats not calling timeout, Seattle had the opportunity to throw the ball without fear of New England regaining possession. In essence, Belichick dared the Seahawks to make the most ill-advised pass in NFL history and the Seahawks were all too happy to comply… Brilliant.”

Which contrasts quite nicely with Patriots Coach Belichick’s after-analysis:

“But it just seemed like — in the flow of the game — that we were OK with where we were.”

Now even a football-oblivious sailor like me knows that Belichick is not exactly verbose. A less confident, more spotlight-loving guy might have concocted an after-story that made it sound like he knew exactly what he was doing. Instead, he stuck with what sounds a lot like the unvarnished truth.

Every day, we all make play-by-play decisions (or, like this one, a lack of decision) that affect our lives. Most are not critiqued in any level of detail by anyone else, but I constantly look back at my own recent decisions/indecision to analyze what went wrong (or right): Not tacking on a competitor… holding on starboard for another thirty seconds to get to a little more wind… not calling a friend on what turns out to be the last opportunity to celebrate New Year’s together… or even writing a blog post about football.

I am my own Monday-morning quarterback for what I can see. For what I can’t see (the many roads I’ve chosen not to travel), there’s no point in hindsight. Who knows what icy pavement I’ve avoided, what new friends I didn’t meet, what lessons I could’ve learned?

All we can do is follow Belichick’s example, and hope our instincts lead us in the right direction. And then make sure we tell the truth afterward, even if a story would make us look smarter.

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