By Gino Blefari
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too …”
– Rudyard Kipling, “If”
Stepping off the plane in Seattle Monday, I was overwhelmed by the number of travelers at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport who were sporting Seahawks jerseys, although it made perfect sense. Only one day before, in a thrilling overtime triumph, the Seattle Seahawks had earned their spot in this year’s Super Bowl match-up. Let me explain …
Trailing 19-7 with just over four minutes remaining in the final quarter of the 2015 NFC Championship game, it looked like the Seahawks, defending Super Bowl champions, were done. The bright blue and green section of the crowd was already trickling out of CenturyLink Field and it seemed “The 12th Man,” Seattle’s rowdy fans, had been silenced.
The Seahawks’ opponents, the Green Bay Packers, played a solid three quarters, even with their star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, suffering from an injured calf. In fact, they overwhelmed Seattle at every turn. But if there’s an antidote to combat impending defeat it comes by way of one simple word and one very complex concept: faith. Whether it’s faith in your team, faith in your abilities, faith in fighting until the very end or some combination of all three, faith can be enough to pull through and succeed.
And faith is certainly what carried the Seahawks to an overtime victory, beating the Packers 28-22 and sending the team to Super Bowl XLIX.
“Such a classic challenge and our guys found a way to get it done,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll in a post-game interview. “That took tremendous faith by everybody, not just Russell.”
Carroll alludes to Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, a 2012 third-round draft pick who arguably played one of the worst games of his career … until he didn’t. As the fourth quarter began, the Seahawks had already committed five turnovers, four from interceptions thrown by Wilson. However, late in the fourth quarter, Wilson put a drive together that ultimately allowed the Seahawks to cut their deficit to 19-14 with 2:09 remaining. Then, Seattle’s recovery of an onsite kick kept the dream alive. The team took its first lead a few moments later when running back Marshawn Lynch dashed 24 yards for a TD and the Seahawks added a two-point conversion. But the game wasn’t over yet. Green Bay tied the score in regulation only to have the Seahawks win the game with a dramatic touchdown pass in overtime.
This week, let’s let Russell Wilson explain the leadership message. “Just [make] the plays at the end and keep believing,” he said, tearing up after the spectacular Seahawks victory on Sunday. “There was no doubt … we had no doubt as a team.”
In other words, the Seahawks never lost faith and now, they’ll play the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. It’s an important lesson for us, as leaders, to remember. No matter how dire it seems, no matter how far behind you may be in the fourth quarter, keep fighting and maintain your confidence because there’s always a chance.
“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’”
– Rudyard Kipling, “If”