Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

As I type, the Pittsburg Steelers are attempting to hold on to a five-point lead and earn a trip to the Super Bowl. Steelers and Packers in the Super Bowl. A lot of people have talked about that scenario. Actually, for obvious reasons I’d rather play the Jets; the Packers know the Jets are beatable, but instead, for Super Bowl 45 we’ll get the two teams named for the blue-collar industries of their towns . Mostly, though, I want Donald Driver to get a Super Bowl ring.

Against Atlanta, sports writers and commentators were describing Green Bay’s performance as a “clinic”. And the first drive that Green Bay had in this week’s game against Chicago had the same feel to it, but that part of the game didn’t last long. In the end Green Bay won because of some great plays by the defense. But even the defense didn’t do a great job against the third-string quarterback for Chicago. Green Bay won because Green Bay didn’t lose. Green Bay played as a team, and people stepped up and did things that were unexpected. Apparently nobody told Shields that he wasn’t supposed to catch the balls thrown by Cutler; he put more effort into pulling down Cutler’s pass than, Knox, the intended receiver did. B J Raji ran a route and intercepted a pass, making it look like he was on the Bears offense. Heads up plays like that made the difference. And Green Bay’s punter, Masthay, wow. Not a bad punt in the lot.

So, when I look at the Green Bay Packers’ NFC Championship win over the Bears, I can’t brag about it showcasing what an awesome, fearsome machine the Packers are. I can however say with confidence that they are a complete team with every person contributing, and each person responsible for taking the initiative to make the heads up play.

A team where each person is responsible for taking the initiative to make the heads up play. Think about that.

Being able to make the heads up play means being prepared. For a football player that means studying film of the other team so that you can get a quick read on what they are doing. It means knowing your own playbook inside out and upside down. It means eating right and being in good condition. And then, when the day comes it means showing up on time, ready to work really hard, giving your all and taking the initiative to make the big play when opportunity presents itself. When that happens on the football field you get big plays from a variety of players, even in a game where the team isn’t doing its absolute best.

That kind of team playing doesn’t have to be relegated to the football field. It can take place at school, at work and at home. As a student I always hated group projects because it seemed that every group had the one person who wouldn’t work very hard or show any initiative. One of two things happened, the rest of the group worked to make up for it and everyone, including the goof-off, got the same good grade, or the rest of the group couldn’t make up for the slacker, and everyone suffered.

The world needs heads up players who show initiative. We don’t need lazy goof-offs. We have a lot of problems to solve, problems of environment, disease, poverty. It’s third and long. We need people to be prepared. We need leaders who can inspire and lead from the trenches, not just the sidelines. We need mathematicians and scientists and writers and artists to help us articulate our game plan; we need people who can do the hard work, play by play, yard by yard to improve our world. We need teachers to help each generation learn how to take initiative to better their own world. In short we need every single person in our society to be responsible for taking the initiative to make the heads up plays that create winning situations for everyone.

That’s how you become a champion. Nothing short of that will do.

© 2011 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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