Monday, November 25, 2013

Take The Wind


There was the inevitable media back-and-forth about over Bill Belichick's decision to give the ball to Peyton Manning in overtime in favor of having the wind at the Patriots' back, thus taking the risk that the greatest quarterback of his era (except when he plays the Patriots), would beat him before the quarterback with the all-time highest won lost percentage) ever had a chance to take the ball. The consensus among the gurus was that while events vindicated Belichick's choice, the outcome might well have gone the other way.

What the smart guys with the pens and the microphones are missing, I believe, is that at some level, Belichick doesn't care about the outcome. Now that might sound like a silly thing to say about one of the most successful coaches in NFL history. Of course, he wants to win, desperately. Winning is the only measure of success that matters to him. But in that pursuit, he understands with ruthless clarity the difference between what he can control and what he can't. He can't control injuries to individual players, so he refuses to invest extravagantly in any one of them, and concentrates on maintaining as even a quality as possible throughout the roster. Thus, in a season where he has lost his 2 best defenders, the Patriots defense is still performing at a relatively high level in the only category that counts. He can't control the officiating, so he has no interest in reacting to the egregious non call that went against the Patriots in last week's lost to Carolina. And he can't control the elements, so given the choice he had, he made the risk benefit calculation that Manning would fail to move the ball against the wind once more, as he had failed all night long.

Most critically, he doesn't care what you or I or the talking heads, or the fans or even his players think. He believes in himself.

What sort of training, you might wonder, help provide Belicheck with such such decision making skills? You'll be happy to recall that as a member of the Wesleyan class of 1975, he majored in economics...


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