As I watched the New England Patriots lose to the Indianapolis Colts, and the call made by Coach Bill Belichick – it makes me wonder why a 3 time Super Bowl championship coach would decide to throw, when it was 4th down and 2 yards rather than take the conventional approach of punting. Some would argue that he thought with the defense lagging and Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning getting “hot”, it did not make sense to send the defensive team out again. Others would say that Belichick wanted to prove an aggressive point to the Colts as well as the rest of the league – just like what he had done in the 2007 season when the Patriots went 18-1, and on most days would give the opposition a hiding! Regardless of these arguments or what sides one takes, it is pretty clear to me that Coach Bill Belichick has the gut instincts and mentality to be a winner and the courage to take a risk and embrace it whether it succeeds or not. If anyone had watched the press conference, one would be able to conclude that despite the loss, the coach looked steady, felt that he made the right play, embraced that it had failed and was ready to move on. That is what makes him as an individual – a winner and thus enforces that passion and commitment to others in that organization.
When one looks at history, all great acts of courage, success, rewards and achievements have come in the face of a defining moment – one where a leader or an organization, makes a decision. These are not your typical marketing strategies that are deliberated on for a month or so with statistics and numbers, or the pre-planning to the execution of a project with heaps of documentation. These are “do-or-die” moments if one wanted to add a theatrical ambience to the situation. Great soldiers, sportsmen, politicians and others have defined themselves and their lives by such moments. Whilst a rookie Senator from Illinois decides to take a risk at running for the Presidency of the United States, Steve Jobs decides to revolutionize the mobile phone industry and take on the dominant telecom industry.The decision to revolt against the Crown by the 13 colonies, the soldiers who swam across the shores on Omaha Beach during the Battle at Normandy, clutch decision plays by Michael Jordan, LBJ’s decision to go against the South and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – these are all decisions made by individuals or leaders, that involved a large margin of error and a high percentage of risk – yet I am sure that they all foresaw the positives outcomes, rather than pondering on “too much” about the negative outcomes of the “to-be-executed” scenarios.
I am not suggesting that these individuals did not deliberate on their decisions before it was made, but it can be safely said that many of these folks were going against the numbers. They were going against the norm, the safe bets. Had Kevin Faulk caught that catch from Tom Brady – Bill Belichick’s risk taking abilities would have been hailed all week long and for the rest of the fall season by ESPN analysts. Instead it will be considered a great misread and most of the praising would be thrown at the other side. It remains to be seen whether Coach Belichick will come back from this loss but if a team can lose their only game of the season at a SuperBowl Championship – and return next season with a 11-5 record – I am sure the Patriots will come back from this loss.