“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” ~Wayne Gretzky
Like many Denver residents, I’m still shaking my head about yesterday’s painful playoff game between the Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens. The Broncos, 9-point favorites going into the game and odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl, somehow managed to lose the game during an overtime period that might not have even been warranted if Coach John Fox hadn’t had Peyton Manning take a knee with thirty seconds left in the game. Now, I’m not a great armchair quarterback or anything (although my Fantasy Football team did finish second in our league this season), but Fox’s choice prompted me to shout a few choice words at my television. If the Broncos, with the ball on their twenty yard line and two timeouts remaining and one of the most successful fourth-quarter quarterbacks ever at the helm, had taken their chances they might have won the game outright, just as they were expected to do. But the coach, for his own reasons, didn’t want to take the risk. Consequently, I’m still shaking (and scratching) my head.
When I was younger, I was fairly conservative with my choices. I was not foolhardy. I held things close to my chest. I was careful to protect myself from possible disappointment. I avoided pain at all cost. You know…better safe than sorry, right? Well, as I’ve gotten older and been able to enjoy the unsweetened benefit of hindsight, I have come to realize that my only regrets in life are a direct result of the chances I did not take, opportunities I did not seize because I was cautious. I understand that you only get one go-around, so when an opportunity presents itself now, no matter how frightened or uncomfortable I am, I try to take it. It’s better to give something your honest all, to put yourself out there, and go balls-to-the-wall, than it is to spend the rest of your life wondering what if. Second guessing yourself is a worse fate than failure.
Today as I sat shaking my head about Coach Fox’s game decision yesterday, I found myself wondering if he is already second guessing his choice. If he’d let Manning play those thirty seconds and try to put together a drive down the field, we might have lost the game in regulation. Manning could have been picked off or there could have been a fumble. It might have ended badly. But, what if it hadn’t? What if Manning had pulled out another one of his clutch performances? Thirty seconds is still plenty of time in a football game when you’ve got a competent leader at quarterback. Perhaps we’d been have been able to give Matt Prater a second shot at a crucial field goal or maybe Manning would have been able to hit Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker for a touchdown? We’ll never know. I believe, as Alvin Toffler said, “It’s better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.” In the end, people respect those who dare. And, those who dare never have to wonder what if.