Super Bowl XLIX And The Power Of A Second Chance

As one of the 114 million people who watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, I must say that I truly enjoyed the entire event. By halftime I normally lose interest and find myself choosing something else to do, but not this year. The actual game was mesmerizing as it unfolded, and I will forever remember those final minutes in the 4th quarter. Malcolm Butler taught me everything about how to handle a second chance not only in football, but in life.

Malcolm Butler was an undrafted rookie who didn't even start in the game for the New England Patriots. He was brought in during the 3rd quarter as a better cornerback choice to defend one of the Seattle Seahawks wide receivers. He made the play of the game, intercepting Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson's intended pass to Ricardo Lockette at the 1 yard line. When I saw it happen, something inside me said, "Wait. Isn't that the same guy who had, moments before, failed to make a big play?" Indeed it was.

Two plays earlier, Butler was defending Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kerse, who made the incredible on-his-back 33 yard catch that put the ball on the 5 yard line. Think about that. Just two plays before becoming the hero of the game, Butler might have been remembered as the one who had the final chance to stop the Seahawks march to the end zone. In his comments after the game, Butler even said, "I went to the sideline, wasn't feeling too well, my teammates were trying to cheer me up and said I made a great play. "I just went up and deflected it. Nine times out of 10, it usually goes away from him. As I was looking, he was bobbling it and caught it. Just devastating."

While I will never play in a Super Bowl, I can count numerous times  I have felt a similar sinking feeling that I failed at something, or that I could have performed better. In those moments I find myself angry, distracted, and trying to put the whole experience out of my head. I know. I should be focusing on what I can learn from the failure, but that comes with time. In those initial moments of defeat it's easy to miss a new opportunity to prove yourself or get back on your feet, and more than once I have been guilty of just that. Sunday night, Malcolm Butler reminded me a much more positive approach.

When asked about how he made the interception, Butler is quoted as saying, "I just knew they were throwing a pick route. "It was on the line, we needed it, and I just beat him to the route and made the play." So much in just a few words. Butler knew he had worked so hard to get to this moment and he didn't discount his value just because things didn't work out perfectly a few minutes ago. He also knew that to give anything less than his best would let others down who were depending on him. You don't have to be a professional football player to understand his logic.

The next time I feel like I have missed an opportunity, made a mess of something, or just failed to bring my best to a task, I'm going to remember the example shown to me by Malcolm Butler: Remember the work that got you to this point, the value you offer, and that others are counting on you to make the big play. Sounds like the formula for a "super" second chance.

How will you handle your next second chance?