The Backdrop: At this point, I’m not certain of the exact direction I’ll be taking this site. I do believe that no matter the course, I’ll always have an interest in sharing my thoughts when I’ve been moved to a realization that in turn, should make me a better person (husband, son, brother, friend, employee, boss, leader, citizen).
The following article, about how the San Francisco 49’ers rallied around Kyle Williams after he played a high-profile (though certainly not singular) role in their NFC Championship game loss to the NY Giants, led me to one of those realizations.
>> Here is the article for your reference, written by Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com: http://bit.ly/z5gZUv
I say high-profile because Williams fumbled at two key points, once in the 4th Quarter and once in OT, the latter of which led directly to the NY Giants game-winning field goal. This football game was played by men, together, not any single man. And that is easy for me to say since I had no suffering or pleasure to gain from the outcome of the game. (Tim Tebow took care of my highs and my lows this year, and frankly, I’m a better fan for it!)
Members of the 49’ers team assumed their most comfortable and natural demeanors as they came to his defense.
- Humbly: Whatever he was thinking, it ended when he saw the crowd of media gathering around Williams’ locker. Ted Ginn made a face and disappeared. A minute later he came back and asked the media to move along.“Go on now,” Ginn said softly, politely, seriously. “It’s too much for him right now.”
- Rationally: Defensive tackle Ray McDonald didn’t want to talk to me, but when I told him the topic was Kyle Williams, he changed his mind. “He’s our teammate,” McDonald said. “Mistakes happen, and he made one that came at the wrong time, but we’re behind him 100 percent. Don’t doubt that.”
- Defiantly: “We all lost this game,” tight end Delanie Walker said. “We play as a team — it’s 45 of us out there. It’s not Kyle’s fault, so don’t go over there and act like it is. Cause it’s not.”
- Boisterously: Injured Josh Morgan — walked over to Williams’ locker and made an announcement. “I’m talking for Kyle,” Morgan said. “You have any questions, ask me. He’s not talking today. I got it.”
My Realization: And all of this made me wonder: how would I have acted? I’d like to think that I have, in such situations, been like Ginn, McDonald, Walker, or Morgan. Haven’t I?
Wouldn’t we all like to believe that about ourselves? And haven’t we all fallen short at some point, yet found a way to forgive ourselves for doing so? Excusing our own behavior for not excusing someone else’s? In this regard, I know that I for one have work to do.
As a Player: What I learned the most from this article is the balance between the four players featured here (and I’m certain there were countless other coaches and players taking similar stances). The different styles each employed to make their point and show their support. There are many ways to put your arm around someone’s shoulder. There is an almost infinite pool of words one can string together to say “I got it.” And every tone is acceptable when showing your sincerest support. The most important thing is that you do not shy away from showing your support as it is your responsibility.
As a Leader: What I learned the most from this article is the importance of a team filled with integrity, not only with its people, but with its inherent structure. If you are going to put a team member in a position to make a mistake on the grandest of stages, then you damned well better have a structure in place to absorb the grandest of failures. Your job as a leader is on one hand, defined by your ability to put your players in a position to succeed. But your greatest work as a leader is when those players have failed. Your greatest work is defined by how you receive them after the fact, and whether you give them the strength to go back out there and take that chance again. And whether your entire team stands behind that individual and your decision when the results are in.
Epilogue: “Everyone in here told me to keep my head up and it’s not on me,” Kyle Williams said. “You hate to be the last guy that had the ball, to give it up that way in that fashion and to lose a game of this magnitude … but I couldn’t be happier with my teammates.”
I’m not sure if they are happy with you, Kyle, but it sounds like your teammates love and support you. And that is a dramatically more powerful sentiment.