Traditionally, my postings usually center on my life and experiences. Whether it is writing about a performing opportunity, special interests or the Victory Voices Men’s choir from the Bethel Memorial Baptist Church,( https://bmbceaston.com) I usually stay within those lanes. But, today I felt the need to express an opinion about a recent pro football game and how the decisions made from the position of leadership can impact life.
On Sunday night, January 3rd, as the rest of America was ending their holiday vacations and getting ready to start the first workweek of the new year, finally get past 2020, the final NFL game of the year was held in Philadelphia (https://www.nfl.com). The Eagles hosted the Washington Football Team. For any fans who watched the game, there were some coaching decisions which certainly have drawn national attention and not for a good reason…
Typically, when a sports team is playing their final game of the season without any post season to play for, you watch them just go through the motions to get to the end of the game and the beginning of the offseason. The Eagles who were finished after last night could have done that but chose not to. If they lost, Washington was the division winner. If they won, the NY Giants who played earlier and won, would win the division. So, as you can see, the play of the Eagles would affect the playoffs and two fan bases. As someone who is not an Eagles or Giants fan, I found myself oddly rooting last night for the Eagles. Right from the beginning of the game, the team clearly showed that they were passionate about the game and were not just playing to get it over with. At the half, the Eagles trailed 17-14 in what was a very competitive game. With nothing to play for, the Eagles showed that they cared and wanted to win.
During the 3rd quarter, Philadelphia had a chance to tie the game at 17 with a relatively close field goal attempt. Rather than attempting the almost sure kick on 4th down, the coach strangely elected to go for it. They did not make the 1st down. The head scratcher move was a prelude for what has become a national story in the sports world and one of fan betrayal. It is always enjoyable to watch a game when players play hard and you could feel the passion within. I felt that with the Eagles for 2 1/2 quarters. They seemed energized to win and might have.
Then, for reasons not known to any of us at the time, the coach decided to bench the starting quarterback, Jalen Hurts, in favor of 3rd string back up Nate Sudfeld who had not played all season. Hurts is a rookie and has played well in the last 4 games. His timely plays and hustle certainly kept Philly in the game. As you can expect, putting in a quarterback who had not played all season was certainly going to change the impact of the game. It did and they ended up losing 20-14. As I watched the game and saw the stunned faces of the players, the impact of the decision became very apparent, the coaching staff didn’t care about winning. With an Eagles loss, their standing in the spring collegiate player draft would be 3 spots higher than if they’d won. (https://www.espn.com/nfl/draft/news) I feel that the organization valued the higher pick over a win.
The debate will rage on whether it was the coach, general manager or owner who ultimately made the call to remove the starter. But, NY Giant fans aside, I, and the many who expressed their views on the radio this morning, can’t help to cringe at the national disgrace expressed throughout the sports world over these decisions. If the team started the backup right from the beginning, you would know it is highly unlikely that they would win, but, they will give it a shot. To be coaching a team that is fighting hard and then just give up on them when the game is well within reach, to me, is ethically bankrupt. To say, “well, at least we have our draft pick 3 spots higher” is not worth quitting on your fans, which are loyal in good times and bad.
The season was not good for the Eagles (4-11-1) but they had a chance to go out honorably and were fighting hard doing that. Perhaps even win the game. (https://www.philadelphiaeagles.com). But, to hear the coach today say that he put in a 3rd stringer in a tight game because he wanted him to get some “snaps” because he has not played insults not just Eagles fans, but all sports fans. Philly fans do not always have the best reputation and hear about it regularly. But, they didn’t deserve that. I sat there and said to myself, wow, I just wasted my time watching this knowing that, on a nationally televised game, leadership more or less said to all of us, winning tonight is not worth it.
On social media last night, I could sense the feel of betrayal by this organization to their fans. Leadership failed their players and more importantly, their life-blood, which is their fan base. This can easily be compared to soldiers in a battle. Think about this-Your unit may be outmanned but is fighting hard in battle. Then, when the outcome seems close, the commanding officer removes key artillery pieces making the unit vulnerable to the other side ultimately resulting in defeat. I know there are obvious differences between professional football and fighting in battle, but, both require competent leadership to survive and win. It was a shame to see leadership give up on the game. Since last night it has become painfully obvious that this decision has struck a nerve throughout the country and on most of the sports talk shows.
The choices made last night should not happen in sports or any form of competition or life. Whether it’s a game or gig, you play and lead to the end. You should NEVER take your fans or supporters for granted..