Imagine if politicians learned the truly important lessons from Super Bowl LVII. Imagine how great America could be if politicians put the team first and individual achievements last. On the flip side, imagine how great society would be if people stopped blaming society for their own individual mistakes or misdeeds.
The Kansas City Chiefs 38-35 thriller over the Philadelphia Eagles showed a degree of unselfishness rarely seen in society. The winning coach Andy Reid was asked what made him so great at his job. He immediately deflected, giving all the praise to his players past and present. Reid, a lock to one day make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, refused to take any credit for the team he led to the Super Bowl championship.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a 25th century Buck Rodgers freak of nature who may be more bionic than earthling. He does things on a football field no quarterback before him has ever done. Yet he also refused to bask in the glow of his own greatness. After winning his second Super Bowl in four years, he praised his offensive line. Offensive linemen are the grunts of football, the closest thing a multi-billion-dollar industry has to blue collar lunchpail guys.
Naturally, the offensive line praised Reid and Mahomes and ignored praise heaped on them.
Late in the game, the ultimate unselfish act preserved the victory. The Chiefs were in position to score the go-ahead touchdown, but that came with a caveat. There was still nearly two minutes left on the clock, a lifetime in football. Had the Chiefs scored that touchdown, the Eagles would have had a chance to win the game. Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon understood this. On the verge of scoring a touchdown, he gave himself up and went to the ground just short of the goal line. The Philadelphia defense was trying to let him score. He refused to do so. McKinnon’s unselfish act allowed the Chiefs to run down most of the entire clock. The winning field goal came with only eight seconds left. McKinnon passed up a chance to score the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl for the overall greater good of the team.
In defeat, the Eagles also showed plenty of unselfishness. This is expected from a team coached by Nick Sirianni, who openly cried on television hearing the National Anthem.
Late in the game, a controversial holding penalty on Philadelphia defender James Bradberry had Eagles fans howling at the referees. After the game, Bradberry admitted that he held the receiver. He hoped the referee would miss the infraction but understood that the proper call was made. This refreshing honesty is rare. His teammates and coaches refused to shove Bradberry under the bus. They all publicly said that one play does not win or lose a game. Grace in defeat is the epitome of unselfishness.
Unselfishness was on display from beginning to end. Kentucky singer Chris Stapleton’s performance of the National Anthem was masterful because he did less, not more. He kept it basic, letting the song itself tell the story. Announcer Greg Olson was on point and understated. Rather than offer over the top commentary, he let the biggest plays of the game speak for themselves. His lack of ego was the epitome of professionalism.
Such moments of modesty are almost non-existent in politics. George Herbert Walker Bush refused to take a victory lap after the Berlin Wall came down. George W. Bush demanded a lack of gloating when Saddam Hussein’s statue came down. Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich balanced the budget because these fierce political rivals were willing to share the credit. John F. Kennedy took the blame for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read “The buck stops here.” Yet those examples are dwarfed by the number of politicians trying to win at all costs due to a false belief that society is a zero-sum game.
While only one team gets to win the Super Bowl and hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy, it is refreshing to see so many people on both teams do things the right way. As for whether the unselfishness will ever transfer from football to politics on a more regular basis, hope always springs eternal.
Eric Golub is a comedian, author and retired stockbrokerage professional living in Los Angeles. His interests include football, politics, Judaism, the stock market, and Angela Lansbury’s “Murder, She Wrote.”