I’m not exactly a rabid football fan. In fact, I think it’s safe to say I’m just the opposite. Most sports bore me. I don’t mind participating in a few of them—or didn’t before I got too old and fat to run more than a few yards without feeling like I’m gonna have a heart attack—but watching them and getting all stoked up over one team or another isn’t in my make-up.
But this past weekend at work, I went through the break room to do my business in the, um, room you do that kind of business in, and when I came out, I happened to glance at the TV bolted to the wall to see a football game going on. I almost looked away and headed back to the guard shack, but then got caught up because it was a kickoff, so I thought I’d see how it turned out.
I really didn’t know who was playing at the time, but the receiving team wore red and white. After the play was over, I noticed the guys in red had a big arrowhead on their helmets, and even I know that’s the symbol of the Kansas City Chiefs.
If you’re a football fan, you probably know where I’m going with this.
Later research showed this was a game between the Chiefs and the St. Louis Rams. I don’t know if there’s a rivalry there or not, but the one article I read about the game said the Rams had had a pretty good game the week before, and the Chiefs’ special team had been on a six-game slump from pulling off…whatever it is special teams are supposed to pull off.
They broke that streak with this game.
Right after the half-time, the Rams kicked off to the Chiefs, and a guy named Knile Davis caught the ball. For some reason, part of me started cheering him on right off, and for once, that cheering was rewarded while I watched this guy bob, weave, and finally sprint for the opposite side of the field. Rams tackles threw up their hands in disgust as Davis ran a 99-yard return for a touchdown.
What impressed me was the way he ran the field, though, and it got me thinking. He ran around the right side of the pack (from his perspective), and at one point there was a Ram player who literally dove for Davis and just missed him. Hollywood couldn’t have done it better, man. Davis read that pack like he was psychic, dodged every attempt to tackle him, and outpaced the ones who got past the blockers to make it to the end zone. And he made it look easy.
If only life—and football, I imagine—were that simple, huh?
But here’s the thing: Knile Davis is obviously good at his job. His coach said he’s fast and dangerous, a winning combination in football, I’m sure. But even on TV, I got a sense of intense concentration as I watched him run. He didn’t play to the crowd, didn’t glance around, didn’t get distracted. He ran, he read the opposition, he dodged them, avoided the obstacles, and got the TD. He only allowed himself to relax after he set the ball on the field, and did a little celebration dance.
And, of course, in true football fashion, his teammates beat the crap out of him in way of congratulations.
I don’t think you have to be a genius to see the parallel I’m aiming for. This guy had a goal and he didn’t let anything get in his way to achieving it. That’s the obvious takeaway here. But there’s a more subtle point, if you think about it: he didn’t run over anybody getting there. He just went around them.
There’s more than one way to achieve your goals, but the bottom line is that you have to have that intense concentration I believe I sensed from Davis, but you also have to have the wisdom to dodge the obstacles rather than run over them, because some of those obstacles might be people you know, and they’re not gonna appreciate you running over them.
I’m sure the St. Louis defense was disappointed that they let Knile Davis get past them. But I’ll bet you deep down they admired the grace he exhibited when he did it. At least, they did if they were professionals.
I think if a lot more of us acted that way, this would be a better world.