On the last day of December 1967, the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys played one of the greatest games in NFL history: The Ice Bowl. It all came down to a gutsy call in the final sixteen seconds of play. Do you remember?
Green Bay had the ball at the one. Down by three points. No time-outs. Third down. It was obvious what they needed to do: throw a pass to the end zone. If it’s incomplete, kick a field goal and try to win in overtime. Or Green Bay could do something completely unexpected: run the ball. If the play works, they win. If not, time runs out and they lose.
You know what happened. The risk paid off, the Packers won the game (and broke my heart), and Vince Lombardi looked like the genius that he was. Of course, had it not worked, every analyst and Packer fan in the world would have wanted to know: Why didn’t you make the obvious call?
Fast forward 37 years to last night’s game. It came down to a play call in the final half-minute. If you watched the game, you know about it: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll chose to pass from the one yard line with less than a minute to go, even with one of NFL’s best running backs in the lineup. Wilson’s throw was intercepted and Seattle lost to New England. The call was immediately questioned in the booth and then ridiculed at length during the post game conversation. (One analyst called it “the worst play call in Super Bowl history.”) Of course, had the play worked, those same analysts would be praising Carroll’s courage and innovation while gushing about his legacy.
That’s why they — the analysts — have the easiest job in the world. They themselves have no goal-line decisions to make. They have only to applaud what succeeds and second-guess what doesn’t — while pretending they would have gotten it right, had the call been theirs to make. But it wasn’t theirs to make, was it? That’s because analysts (and fans like you and me) can only observe from the stands or the sofa. We’ll never be the ones calling the plays or making things happen. Do you see where I’m going with this?
In life, you can either be a leader or an analyst, but not both. You can be either a decision-maker or a second-guesser, but not both. If you choose to lead, maybe sometimes you’ll look like a genius. Other times you’ll look like you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s the risk that leaders take. However, win or lose, being part of the action beats being a spectator every time.
Paul tells us to run the race in order to win, because we strive for an eternal prize.
1 Corinthians 9:2-25
All through the day you are faced with opportunities to either lead or second guess.
Which will you do?