We have all seen it, and anyone who knows anything about football knows it was probably the most bone-headed play ever called in a Super Bowl. Needing only one yard to repeat as champions, Pete Carroll, the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, decided to call a slant pass with the explosive Marshawn Lynch standing in the backfield ready to ram the ball into the end zone. Had the inexplicably risky play worked, people would have called Carroll as gutsy as ever but, even if it had, throwing the ball in those circumstances makes no sense at all. In the end, many felt Carroll tried to get “too cute” in his strategy rather than merely do the safer, simpler, and much more practical thing by calling a running play with perhaps the most dangerous runner in football in important situations.
Given the above, many have asserted that Carroll, true to his nature, likes to shoot from the hip and display an almost reckless swagger that has come to characterize his team. Others cite an arrogance just beneath the surface of that swagger, displaying a subtle disdain for the conventional, as well as a distaste for the expected. This swagger worked when Carroll went for and got the tying touchdown just before the half when most would have settled for a field goal to cut the margin. It seemed destined for another inevitable fairy tale ending when Jermaine Kearse juggled, and caught a long pass while sitting on his behind to put the Seahawks within sight of victory with less than a minute remaining. However, as often happens, those who rely on improbable miracles built on reckless abandon run out of luck, and so this amazing catch was destined to become but a bitter precursor to the collapse that followed.
Our faith and salvation depend on our ability to simplify and apply God’s laws to our lives. It is only when we try to get too “cute” and pretend that we can improvise God’s recipe for success and salvation that we get into trouble. Rather than develop a lunch pail, workman-like approach to bringing glory to God and serving others, we often go for the big play, the sexy display of sheer nobility or holiness. I bet that many of us, given the chance to gain world-wide fame for helping one person or total anonymity for helping a thousand people, would opt for the former rather than the latter.
If bringing glory to God and serving others in His Name is too complicated for us, it is only because we make it so by pretending that God’s ways are somehow too dry and dull for our taste. We dare to fancy ourselves so much more multi-dimensional than God calls us to be, adept at serving others and praising God while reading our own press clippings. In the end, I will take controlled excellence over reckless spectacles every day.
As for the reaction to this foolish play, there we have the complete opposite of the kind of mercy which Christ calls us to exhibit. This biggest of blunders in clearly the biggest of stages has resulted in the biggest of backlashes possible from fans too eager to pretend they know more about football than these coaches have forgotten. Yes, it was a terrible mistake but, no, that does not mean that Carroll or any of his coaches should be forever bashed for the move. Christ calls on us to forgive the biggest falls from precisely the biggest stages more easily than the smallest missteps from the most unimportant situations. I think that it is safe to say that Carroll, quarterback Russell Wilson, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will have to live with this painful memory for a long time, so bashing them now is just too easy and clearly vicious.
So there you have it. Simplify and execute God’s simple plan for your salvation; do not try to get fancy with the basic formula God has provided us. Secondly, be ready to forgive the biggest blunders and harms in the biggest situations, for our eternal judgment will be the scene of far bigger blunders in a far more important game for each of us, and we will need all the compassion, consideration, and mercy we can get.
2015 Gabriel Garnica