By Bob Hiller –
Last Sunday’s Super Bowl presented quite the ethical dilemma: With the New England Patriots playing the Seattle Seahawks, who should one cheer for? What choice does one make when all the options are evil? In my house we decided to sin boldly and cheer for Seattle. Even though they lost, I’m glad we did. Let me explain.
Seattle was set to win the game. With two minutes left on the clock, quarterback Russell Wilson was driving his team down the field. After one of the most insane catches you’ll ever see by Jermaine Kearse and a run by the best running back in the league, Marshawn Lynch, Seattle had three downs to score and take the lead. All they had to do was hand the ball off to Lynch who, in the minds of every breathing human in the world, would without question score. But then, inexplicably, Wilson threw the ball into tight coverage and it was picked off by rookie Malcom Butler. Game over. New England wins. (If you don’t follow football, this all means that Seattle had an easy play to win and did something stupid to lose.)
The decision to not hand the ball to Lynch has already been named the worst play call in history. Though that may be exaggerated, it is hard to figure out what was going on in the mind of the play caller. Immediately after the game, the blame game began. Whose decision was it to pass? The quarterback? The offensive coordinator? The head coach? Whoever it was, they will never live it down. Every interview and article written will remind that play caller of their catastrophe.
According to Coach Pete Carroll, the call was his fault. He thought the Pats were lined up to stop the run. He thought a pass would work better. Even though he didn’t throw the interception, he took the blame. He took responsibility for the call and the pick. He blamed no one but himself.
And this is why I am glad I cheered for a Seattle. Because Pete Carroll took responsibility. This seems to be a virtue lost on us these days. In the two weeks leading up to the game, the Patriots were accused of cheating by doctoring their footballs. They were hit with accusations left and right and no one owned up to it. The head coach even passed the buck to his star Tom Brady telling reporters to “go ask the quarterback” about the balls. After all, they are his problem. No one took responsibility.
Of course they didn’t. If they had, the fallout would be awful. But that is what makes Carroll’s words that much better. By owning that call, he had removed all blame from his coaches and his team. For the rest of his life he will be reminded of that call, asked about it, and ridiculed. This admission will humiliate him. He looks awful. But his team comes off clean.
We need more men like Pete Carroll. We need fathers and leaders who don’t just own up for their mistakes, but take responsibility for those they have been called to serve. Even and especially when their people screw up. Real men, true leaders, take responsibility.
Look, Carroll’s record is not clean on this front. He did skip town pretty quickly when his former USC team was investigated by the NCAA. But, on Sunday evening, Pete Carroll was an example to us all. In a world of blame-shifting politicians, cowardly-absentee fathers, and a feminist culture that tells us men are good for nothing but drinking beer, warming couches, and being crude, we need more men to act like Pete Carroll. We need men to take responsibility for those he has been called to serve no matter what the fallout. That is why I am glad I cheered for Seattle.
And you know…taking responsibility for others, shifting the blame on to oneself so others are free from accusation, being shamed in the place of the beloved: isn’t this exactly what Christ our Lord has done for you? Jesus has taken full and complete responsibility for the sins that this world, the devil, and even the law unceasingly accuse you of. Like the Seahawks offense, you are eternally free from condemnation because Jesus took responsibility for you and died in your place.