Where Does Ego Belong?

As a transplant to Michigan, I am surrounded by Lions fans and the one thing you will hear from most of them early in any season is, this could be the year.

As a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, I can understand that sentiment AND tell you there is hardly a sweeter feeling than when it actually does happen. However, there was a moment this afternoon when I thought the team that clearly only wants to win in the most high risk, tightrope style of play, wasn’t going to be the hero on this Sunday.

With 11:23 left in the 4th Quarter, or as we call it in Michigan — the Lions quarter, Jamai Agnew has this incredible punt return (74 yards) for a touchdown and the stadium went silent, as he was crossing the goal line he decided to wave “bye-bye” to the defenders as he crossed the goal line. It was the kind of play that supercharges the Lions into those 4th quarter heroics they have become known for. Even with the penalty he got for unsportsmanlike conduct.

I have never seen a greater monster or miracle than myself.

Still down by 14 points, the above quote by Michel de Montaigne perfectly illustrates why humility and stoicism are usually the better play there. The side of the coin with the hubris and moxie does occasionally flip on you went you least expect it and land on the wrong side.

Exactly 5 minutes later:

Agnew muffs a punt recovers in the end zone and gets destroyed on the 1-yard line. At this point, the Lions are down by 7 points (45–38) and if Agnew could have another heroic run like he did 5 minutes ago the Lions would have the clock, the ball, and momentum on their side.

However, as the football gods giveth and they also taketh away, moments later from that same position on the field, the New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan picked Matthew Stafford off and closed the book on a Lions victory 52–38.

I am sure there are fans who blame the loss squarely on Agnew’s shoulders, which is hardly fair. Even if you are not a football fan, a team who allows their quarterback to be sacked 15 times in the first 5 games of 2017 has a lot more issues than a bombastic punt returner.

I merely saw that moment as a man playing for himself in a team sport on a particular play that requires everyone to do their part to open up the field for Agnew to create that spectacular play. Five minutes later when that same team needs him to create a play for them, he fails spectacularly, alone.

When you need to win as a team you need to have team members who understand when to stand out and when to play support, when they need to get their hands dirty and when they will be celebrated. When a member of that team mixes up those moments it makes it very difficult for that team to win and in a sport where you only get 16 chances to pick up a W. You have to have a firm understanding where ego belongs in that org chart.

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