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Super Bowl Lessons for the Right, Part I: Teams, Not Individuals, Win (and Lose) Championships

Posted on February 14 2010 6:20 pm
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Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning’s disastrous game-changing and game-losing Super Bowl interception underscores the need for better teamwork in both sports and politics.

Click here for Part II

The Super Bowl is quickly fading in our collective memory but the lessons gleaned from this year’s stunning loss by the favored Indianapolis Colts should not be forgotten.

To the contrary, those lessons need to be remembered and heeded: because they have much to teach the political Right — starting with Peyton Manning’s disastrous interception, which a Saints defensive back returned for a decisive, game-changing and game-winning touchdown. And the lesson is this:

Just as football is a team sport; so, too, is politics and public policy. And just as no player — no matter how talented — can win a game on his own, so too is it impossible for a single part of a political coalition to prevail alone. The coalition must be mutually reinforcing, with strong and welcomed contributions from all of its disparate factions and members.

I say this because although Manning has been the subject of considerable opprobrium, the interception really wasn’t his fault.

Indeed, as many of the game’s better practitioners and analysts — including Hall of Fame Quarterback Steve Young and all-pro wide receiver Chris Carter — were quick to point out after the game, Manning, despite being under heavy pressure from the Saints’ defense, threw a great, pinpoint pass to his wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Wayne, however, ran a poor route, which tipped off Saints corner back Tracy Porter.

This was crucial because NFL receivers today must run crisp timing routes, which are dependent upon the quarterback and his receiver being in perfect synch. Wayne, though, failed to execute on this key play (perhaps, in fairness it should be said, because he was playing with a minor knee injury).

Worse yet, says Carter, Wayne failed to interpose himself between Porter and Manning’s pass. Wayne failed even to try and knock down Porter to prevent the pick. Sure, that would have resulted in a penalty, but at least the Colts’ would have retained possession of the ball.

Instead, Porter intercepted Manning’s pass and returned it for a decisive, game-changing and game-winning touchdown.

The lesson for the Right is clear: We need strong teamwork between and amongst our various factions because no one faction, no matter how strong and able, can win by itself. This means swallowing our pride — and also our political and cultural prejudices — and working together with people whose ideological outlook, style and demeanor may not always be to our exact liking.

In Part II of this series, we’ll examine how precisely the Indianapolis Colts — and not just Peyton Manning — lost this year’s Super Bowl. In this way, we’ll show how leaders, in both sports and politics, are destined to fail without a strong supporting cast.

John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. Follow him on Twitter.

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