Would you have pulled Ben out of the fire when it was a three-score game in’Frisco? This was the question posed to me while on air and a subject worthy of some thought and discussion.
My answer is a simple no.
Not if he (Ben) didn’t want out. I understand the argument for pulling a guy for his own safety. And to be candid, the thought did cross my mind as i stood on the sidelines. But as i squelched the thought standing there observing and contemplated in the aftermath, i am completely on board with Ben finishing.
As i’ve said before, there is magic in facing adversity and grinding to the finish. it’s not about the people outside the huddle, it’s the 11 sets of eyeballs locked on each other inside the huddle.
Not waving the white towel of surrender strengthens every man in the huddle. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Leadership is a fickle thing. It can’t be granted, birthed or bestowed on someone. It can only be achieved and maintained in the furnace of competition. The after effects may not be noticeable to those outside the locker room or even immediately apparent to those inside the huddle. But these moments are the mortar that builds the house brick by brick to withstand the gales of adversity that each season brings and provides the teaching tool that helps young players understand what it takes to win in the NFL. And part of what it takes to win is to understand the difference between pain and injury.
As long as there is football folks, there will be pain and injury.
Football is a tough game. It’s played by tough people and toughness is a characteristic that is celebrated within the locker room and outside the walls of the locker room. It’s hard to describe to people that haven’t had the opportunity what it means individually and corporately to rise to the challenge of playing through the adversity of personal pain and injury. There is a difference.
The fact that Ben didn’t get shot up in the ankle tells me that Ben understands the difference between pain and injury. Getting shot up is all too easy to do in this situation. Ben was thoughtfully in charge of his own safety and thorougly understood the consequences of his actions. He knew what was at stake. He also knew that he represented the best hope for the Steelers to win, and barring that, the importance of grinding to the finish even in a losing cause. It means something to others.
“Hope is an attitude in action. Hope enables people to mobilize their healing powers and their achieving powers. Hope enables them to transcend the difficulties of today and envision the potentialities of tomorrow. Hope enables people to bounce back even after being bent, stretched, and depressed. Hope enables people to find the will and the way to aspire to greatness. Hope is testimony to the power of the human spirit.” (Jim Kouzes)