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A masterclass in risk-taking from the New Orleans Saints

February 8th, 2010 Posted in Liberal Democrats, UK Politics by

sean-payton-with-superbowl-trophyBig occassions need big men. Men that will rise to the challenge, galvanise their team and take some big risks – when it really counts. When history is in the making you dont want Mr Timid knocking at the door. Opportunity rewards the bold and the brave. So it was with sheer delight that I watched the underdogs – the New Orleans Saints- scoop the biggest prize of all – the Superbowl.

If you did not watch the game, this may mean nothing to you – go watch it. But Sean Payton (the Saints coach) proved himself to be one of  the gutsiest coaches ever to come to a Superbowl game.

The Colts came into the game clear favourites. The first quarter went  as expected. It was all Colts; at one point they were leading 10-0 and many thought, I am sure, that it was game over. The Saints seemed to be taking too many risks – like going for a touchdown when a field goal could have been banked.  But by the end of the second quarter the Saints had fought their way back into the game not by changing their game plan – but by staying true to it. By half time it looked clear to me that the Saints could only win if they DID take those risks – and by jove that is what they were doing . With the score standing at 10-6 to the Colts (and much of the money on the Colts) I put my money on the Saints.

Coming out at the opening of the second half – Sean Payton did the unthinkable – he took another, huge, risk calling for an onside kick to keep posession with the Saints. Yes it was risky but it proved to be as brilliant as it was unexpected. From there on in the Saints never really looked like losing. Nor did they lose their willingness to take risks – going for a two point conversion, with all the risks that entailed (and challenging the call when it was ruled foul). These boys were going for it. They kept the brilliant (arguably the best ever ) Colts quarterback Peyton Manning out of the game for over an hour and that probably proved decisive. When he did get onto the field they kept the pressure up – eventually winning that well deserved (and brilliantly taken) turnover. Actually I think the Colts were technically the better team on the night but they had no answer for the passion, the risk-taking and team spirit of the Saints. The Saints won 31-17.

So what has this to do with politics or the Liberal Democrats ? I think that Nick Clegg can learn a great deal from the Saints coach Sean Payton. And I urge all Liberal Democrats to go watch the game. It is a masterclass in leadership – of stepping up to the plate when the big game is on – of taking risks – of having faith in your team and your team having faith in you – giving them the belief and the tools to win – and win when it mattered.

After 43 years of mediocrity these first time finalists had not fared too well in recent years. They had been the also rans for too many years. So when opportunity came knocking, boy were they hungry for it. Second was not enough.

Offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb said “You know you’re going to be competing to win, ” …. “..You want to know that Coach backs you, he has faith in our group, and he’s going to put us in situations to be successful.” ….”So those aggressive points -(risks!) – he’s putting the ball in our court, saying, ‘Go make a play, guys. I’ve got faith in you. Go make me right.’ That’s exactly what you want.”

Linebacker Scott Fujita agreed “(The coach) came in playing to win this game….You like that… He’s got a certain swagger about him, it carries over to the offense….Now you’ve got a lot of guys playing aggressive, playing confident”

Thats what we want to see from Nick, (ok not the swagger but) but  leader of men that says “go for it” . We will take risks, because playing it safe is not good enough – and the prize is worth winning. This is the best chance we have had in a very long time so lets not have regrets later about where we should have been bolder. Lets be brave.

Ok we can’t win the Superbowl (can you imagine Vince in shoulder pads?) . We can’t win the election. But we can make history. We can change politics forever – and thats our Superbowl. I am not sure who our quarterback is, but Nick needs to be our Sean Payton. Please go watch the game Nick.

3 Responses to “A masterclass in risk-taking from the New Orleans Saints”

  1. Alex Agius. Says:

    That onside kick took real guts, I watched the game and I wasn’t expecting it. As Phil Simms said on the commentary Sean Payton would have decided to do it at the end of the first half and had all of the extended half time (the who were excellent by the way) to think about it and mull it over, but he stuck to his brave decision and boy did it pay off big time. He could have given New Orleans ever biggest game away so easily had the Colts got the ball to start the 2nd half on the Saints 40 yard line. It was the game changer, that and Tracy Porter picking off Peyton Manning and taking it to the house.

  2. Angela Harbutt Says:

    Aahhh the joy of reading your comment Alex – am reliving it on sky sports 3 as i write this. Yes it was a joy. Apparently the saints had been practising the onside kick all week – they definitely knew it was a surprise option they had – and it kept peyton off the pitch for an age which must have had an effect on his game. Thanks for posting your thoughts.

  3. Ziggy Says:

    i got to ask Roger Daltrey today!

    Oh & I podcasted last week about The Who

    Despite the middle class snobbery I’ve been on the recieving end of from libertarians & members of the Lib Dems there are folk who appreciate what I say.