What a season for the Chiefs. Last Sunday, our church was filled with a Sea of Red at all of our campuses as we paused to remember that we are a part of a Kingdom much bigger than the Chiefs kingdom, but few of us could take our minds off the AFC Championship kickoff coming in a few hours. We all huddled in our living rooms, away from the 17* weather outside, heated up our nachos and snack food, fired up our TVs to root on the boys in RED, and watched a frustrating loss against the Patriots. Because the game is what everyone was talking about, and because I’ve developed a fondness for all things local, I want to offer three reflections on the fall of the Chiefs Kingdom in the AFC Championship.
Patrick Mahomes: Learn from the greatness of others, but don’t be afraid to be yourself. Left handed shot-put style throws, no-look across-the-defense passes, side-handed tosses that seem to curve around defensive players and into the hands of his receivers, there has yet to be a game where Pat Mahomes did not do something that caused us to go “wow.” Throughout the game I kept wondering what it must have been like to be Pat at 23 years old, competing against Tom Brady at 41 years old. Brady was probably one of his NFL heroes growing up. Pat sought to emulate Brady’s uncanny ability to move around in the pocket from watching film of Brady back in college (thanks Ben Field for this insight!). Now he makes his fair share of mistakes, and Tom Brady may be the NFL’s GOAT, but the kid is a class act in front of the media, and all around fun to watch. Now Tom may have had more yards than Pat Mahomes, but Pat is beating Tom in every category (with slight exceptions in Yards per Game and Completion percentage), and has not been afraid to do things that even Tom Brady would never do (like a no-look pass). It seems a good rule of thumb to watch the top performers in any given field, and seek to be like them and surpass them, but to never be afraid to bring your own gifts and abilities to whatever field on which you play.
Dee Ford: Sweat the small things. Towards the end of the game, Tom Brady’s pass was barely missed by Rob Gronkowski and intercepted by the Chiefs in what appeared to be a certain touchdown, only to be called back on an encroachment call on Chiefs outside linebacker Dee Ford. People were saying that Ford had lost the game for the Chiefs. A video emerged in which Dee Ford was asking teammates on the sideline whether or not he was really offsides. You cannot help but feel sorry for him. As angry as we get at players representing the teams we cheer for, let’s remember that they’re human. Another video emerged of Dee Ford, reportedly hours after the game, was on a flight sitting next to an elderly woman carrying on a very polite conversation. It is helpful to remind ourself that these guys are young, they’re human, and they make mistakes. The other side of it is that you can’t make those kind of mistakes at this level of competition. When you’re competing for the AFC Championship, you need to sweat the small things. How many thousands of times had the defensive team went through practicing lining up on the line of scrimmage and avoiding those kinds of penalties? It is popular to say ‘don’t sweat the small things,’ which is true enough when talking about anxiety and worry, but when it comes to being excellent in everything we do, Dee Ford’s small mistake is a reminder that we should sweat the small things.
Tom Brady: Never miss twice. I’m reading a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear (highly recommended) and there’s a huge piece of advice he gives to people trying to form a new habit in their lives: “never miss twice.” Basically he says that as you get momentum with your new habit, you are going to screw up. We’re all human; none of us are perfect. Perfection should never be the goal. Instead, just make it your goal to never miss twice. In overtime, Tom Brady converted three third-and-ten situations to first downs. Basically the Chiefs defense missed three opportunities to stop the Patriots drive. Missing one is bad enough, but you still have a chance to get lucky. Few teams though can miss three third down conversion opportunities, especially in a championship game in overtime and still expect to have a favorable outcome. Also, Brady dodged a bullet with his mistaken pass that was intercepted and called back because of the offsides call on Ford. But he didn’t miss twice. If you’ve found yourself already breaking some of the New Years Resolutions that you made for 2019, get focused, and get back on track. Don’t miss twice. Focus on getting 1% better each day, and after 100 days, you’ll be 100% better.
Hats off to the Chiefs for an awesome season. It’s fun being a part of the Chiefs Kingdom.