I’m sure I won’t be the first person to draw analogies from the Seahawks Sunday game against the Green Bay Packers. In fact I have a quite a lot of friends that are anti-sports fans. They mock and criticize the corruption, the high salaries, and the sheer ‘big deal’ that is made out of professional sports. But I think there are some valuable lessons we can learn from athletes in general and from Sunday’s game specifically.
If you are an author, chances are pretty good that you have experienced defeat. Not everything we write is destined to become a bestseller. Sometimes we can feel lost in a sea of other authors or overwhelmed by the sheer task of what it means to bring a book to market. Let me tell you what I got out of Seattle’s game.
If you didn’t watch it, you might want to check out a few clips of the last quarter of the game. Really, the last 5 minutes of the game. Russell Wilson had a miserable 55 minutes of football on Sunday. He threw 4 interceptions. FOUR! 4 times he gave Seattle’s ball to Green Bay and basically said, “Hey Packers. Go ahead. Here’s another chance to score.”
But. You know what he didn’t do? He didn’t QUIT. A lot of people gave up on that game. When he threw the last interception I was one of thousands of fans who cried “Oh, that’s the game. They aren’t coming back from that one. Not enough time on the clock. Yada Yada Yada.”
I’m not a sports reporter so this won’t sound like all the dudes on Sportscenter who are playing highlight reels over and over. What I am is someone who has experienced defeat. Someone who has had to pick themselves up off the mat because they’d been knocked down over and over. (Yeah, I know I’m combining wrestling and football metaphors – It’s my blog, I’ll do what I want!)
Let me tell you what I do know. I know that when you have been losing and making horrible mistakes and nothing seems to be going your way that it is hard _ HARD _ to keep going at all. Let alone keep going with anything resembling a winning attitude.
This is what Russell Wilson and the Seahawks did on Sunday. They were losing. Bad. Their defense was doing pretty decent at keeping Green Bay at bay (hahaha) but there is only so much a defense can do.
The entire team kept heart. The believed they could win. They faked a field goal and then turned it in for a touchdown. They did an onside kick and got the extra point. Wilson kept throwing balls to his receivers down field even though he’d thrown FOUR interceptions. They trusted in themselves and their training and in their process. And then they dug deep and kept fighting.
There was one particular play that really stuck with me because the visual symbolism was so powerful. I think Marshawn Lynch had the ball and Seattle needed a first down. Like, desperately. It looked like all of Green Bay’s defensive line had landed on Lynch and the play was essentially dead, but then this happened. Lynch stayed on his feet. He kept digging and kept standing. And then…and this is really amazing…more Seahawks got behind him and together they were able to generate enough power to get Lynch across the line for a first down. He couldn’t have done that by himself. He needed his team to back him up, to give him a little push. But, if he hadn’t stayed on his feet, it wouldn’t have mattered if the entire world was behind him. He had to stay on his feet.
Then we all held our breath when Sherman got hurt. If you watched the game with the rest of us, then you know the play I’m talking about. The one when Sherman got hurt and caused us all to wonder if he’d go back in. Would he stay in? You could see the pain in his eyes, the grimace on his face. You could see the way he held his arm close to his body. And you also saw him shake off the people that tried to make sure he was all right. He wasn’t all right and babied that arm for the rest of the game. But he had a championship game to play. Quitting wasn’t even a possibility.
Then you saw him run back on to that field and continue to tackle people and defend his team. He played the rest of the game with what we now know is a sprained elbow. He didn’t quit. His team needed him to hang in there, to help get them across the line and head off to another Super Bowl.
We all find ourselves in situations both personally and professionally where we feel truly beat up. We’ve managed to throw interceptions or sprain our elbow. We might be down so many points that the game doesn’t even seem winnable.
But here’s the truth. It’s only over when you don’t get back up. Don’t let that sprained elbow stop you. Maybe it slows you down. Maybe you are afraid to throw the ball again because the last four times ended in disaster. But if you stop throwing the ball, the game is definitely over.
This guy, Kearse, I think, (below) tipped a couple of Wilson’s throws and likely contributed to those interceptions. But guess what. He didn’t quit either. And he caught the pass from Wilson that became the winning touchdown in overtime. What we can remember from this is that everybody makes mistakes – even professional, well-trained athletes. But because this dude got back up and buried his disappointment (maybe even guilt), his mistakes weren’t the last chapter of his game. He got to catch the winning pass. Rad, right?
Nobody on that team gave up. This is what winning looks like.
I’ve heard a lot of people say “It’s not how you start, but how you finish that counts.”
I agree with them. We all have rough patches. Chances are you have people in your life that *want* to help push you across the line for that first down. People that want you to throw another ball so that you can put those interceptions behind you.
So keep your chin up. Learn from this team of athletes how to win. Because football is really just an analogy for real life.
Click here to get to my Facebook page and watch a fun short video of the last few great plays of Sunday’s game from the POV of a super fan! Prepare for green hair!