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Leadership Forum: Leadership, football style

March 27, 2023  By Chris Harrow


have just finished watching another Super Bowl and eating way too much junk food (and maybe a few too many Super Bowl beverages). The part of football I really enjoy is the hundreds of hours of analysis, highlighting the in-depth look at various players and coaches’ leadership qualities exhibited before and during the game. There are many learning opportunities available from one of the biggest sporting events in North America.

One item that really struck home for me was the post-game press conference from the Philadelphia Eagles. There was a ton of leadership exhibited from a bunch of their players and the head coach when addressing a certain part of the game. It gave tremendous insight into how their team operated and the philosophies surrounding the entire team that obviously a large majority of the team had bought into.

For those of you who didn’t see the game or are not football fans, the play in question occurred near the end of the game. A defensive player was called for a penalty that kept the ball in Kansas City’s possession and lead to their final score that won the game for them. The penalty was a large part of the broadcast on television with the one commentator dwelling on how he disagreed with the call and it cost the Eagles the game. The reaction of the Eagles after the game was both refreshing and a fantastic learning opportunity for all of us.

The press immediately went to this play with the head coach and a bunch of the higher profile players trying to get them to comment on how this incident had cost them the game. None of them would blame that incident or someone else for the loss they had just suffered. In fact, a couple of them took the route of praising the officials and the difficult job they had in calling the game. The head coach spoke on how there are many plays throughout that can affect the outcome of a game. Another player talked about how he would reflect on all the things he could have done better to cause a different result in the game. 

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The best response was from the actual player himself who was called for the penalty. With so many outside people saying it was a bad call and it wrecked the entire game, this individual stood in front of the microphones of the press and admitted he committed a penalty and said the referees got it right. He was hoping they didn’t see it, but they did, and he had to pay the price for the infraction. What an unbelievable action from this young man to admit his wrongdoing on the biggest stage in sports!

In this day and age when so many people are so quick to immediately blame others for their inabilities to be successful, this group of highly paid athletes quickly put to rest controversary or storylines that could have been established and placed all the blame on themselves. The Eagles spoke about how they need to continue to improve their team and would endeavour to work harder so they could avoid the same result from happening again.

It was a valuable learning experience for my son and I, who watched the highlights together. He has just finished a leadership class in high school and this example was able to drive home so many points he had recently learned. The highlights gave an opportunity for us to have a discussion on what a great example of an athlete and a team is in sports today. All of the team had obviously bought into the leadership example being set by their head coach and his staff.  The players proved their team philosophies by their united responses and actions. Now take this lesson back to your place of work and think about how much you could benefit from it there. Having the entire team buy into the same philosophies and outlooks will only add to the success of the entire team.  

Having each team member willing to accept responsibility for their actions and strive to get better so they don’t happen again is an unbelievable concept to have. Being able to use a sports game as an example to start the conversation can really help to give people a real-life example. 

In a current time when we face so much negativity in a day and deal with people who are so quick to blame someone else for their misgivings, this was a much-needed breath of fresh air. 

I gained a whole new respect for the Philadelphia Eagles team and their personnel. The exhibition of leadership they put forward is an example we can all model ourselves and teams after.  Although I will still be focusing on my 49’ers each year, I may be having to quietly cheer on a team who has definitely gained my respect.


Chris Harrow is the director of fire services for the Town of Minto and Township of Wellington North in Ontario. He is a graduate from fire programs at Lakeland College and Dalhousie University and holds a graduate certificate in Advanced Care Paramedics from Conestoga College. He can be reached at c.harrow@mintofiredept.on.ca.


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