Sports metaphors; sure they are cliché, but there is an element of truth in clichés. I’ve made no secret that I’m a die-hard Baltimore Ravens fan, just as I realize that there are those who are not fans, and even dislike the team (or the sport in general). However, I ask you to put aside any ill-will you may have towards the Ravens (or the game) to consider something that we can take away from their Super Bowl win on February 3, 2013.
In case you missed it, the Ravens jumped out to a 28-6 lead over the 49ersat the beginning on the 2nd half of the game, then the lights went out in the Superdome…literally (well, half the lights, anyhow). Play was stopped for 34 minutes while officials were determining what happened and how to get the lights back on, as well as power to the broadcasting booth and commumications on the 49ers sideline. The delay seemed to allow the 49ers to regroup, and the momentum of the game swung as the San Francisco mounted a furious comeback. With the Ravens up 34-29 with two minutes to play, the 49ers had the ball with a first down at the Ravens’ seven yard line. Four tries to get seven yards for the go-ahead touchdown with seconds left on the clock. After three plays, it came down to a fourth down play from the five yard line. If the Ravens made the stop, they would get the ball back with the lead and mere seconds to go for the win.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you probably know what happened next. The Ravens were determined to not let the 49ers run the ball with their quarterback prodigy, so they sent an all-out run blitz; the 49ers QB saw the pressure an audibled to a pass. The pass was hurried by the defensive pressure and the ball sailed out of bound and out of the reach of the receiver, all but ensuring a Ravens win.
The point here is not to debate the game, but rather reflect on the mindset of the Ravens during the final play. Keep in mind that this is a team who lost the Defensive Player of the Year in the preseason; lost their best cornerback in week 3, lost their team leader in week 6, and had a series of injuries to key players. In fact, most of their starters on defense did not play together until the first week of the playoffs. Suffice it to say that this was a team that faced its share of adversity throughout the season. Therefore, it’s instructive to note how the players reacted to that one final stand that likely could have meant the difference between a win and a loss.
What it came down to was trust, that each man would do his job and could depend on the others to do their jobs:
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees turned up the heat and blitzed, filling the running lanes with white jerseys. “My decision was I just wasn’t going to let them do it running (the ball),” Pees said. They left the Ravens’ defensive backs in tough, one-on-one situations with the 49ers’ superb receivers, but the defenders held firm. “What we said in the huddle was, ‘Just beat your man, just beat your man,’” safety Bernard Pollard said.
So how were they able to have the trust in each other and confidence that they would succeed? Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked what enabled his team to hold on. “We’re a resilient team. We’ve got a lot of resolve. That’s why we won the game,” he said. “We’ve been through so much together, so many ups and downs, that we don’t let any situation get to us, even one like that,” Bernard Pollard added.
Those last two quotes are the entire purpose of this article (after a probably way-too-long recounting of the Super Bowl). This is the kind of mindset that conservatives need to adopt. The Ravens had an up-and-down season full of adversity, lost 4 of their last 5 games and were left for dead at the beginning of the playoffs – no one gave them a chance at winning it all. Kind of like how we conservatives have lost the last two presidential elections, been circumvented through executive orders, villified by the president and press, and generally kicked around for the past 5 years.
What is needed now more than ever is a sense of unity, of resiliency in fighting the leftist agenda being set forth by Obama and the Democrat controlled Senate. It is well known that Obama’s goal is to decisively fracture the Republican Party by focusing on wedge issues that will cause conservative infighting. He wants to destroy the GOP.
In response, Republicans are expressing increased frustration over his strong arm tactics and flagrant insincerity when dealing with these defining issues. Responding to Obama’s reprehensibly partisan and vitriolic inauguration speech, Republican House Speaker John Boehner asserted that the Administration is working to “annihilate the Republican Party,” and to “shove us into the dustbin of history.” While Boehner is absolutely right, conservatives outside of the Beltway have been infuriated by his unwillingness to recognize this obvious point since Obama made plain his tactics starting in 2009.
The problem is that through the use of wedge issues, Obama is generally succeeeding in creating infighting among conservatives. At a time when we should be more united than ever, taking a “world against us” approach, what we actually have is public dissention from members of Congress, an ill time and incredibly planned “coup” of the Speakership of the House, and bickering, arguing and attacking one another at the grassroots level.
Before I took my Super Bowl hiatus, I witnessed one conservative attack another over the use of “Plan B” in rape cases. Terms like “pro-abortion”, “fake conservative”, “liberal”, “and “watering down the conservative message” were (and continue to be) thrown around in an effort to tear down a fellow conservative. This doesn’t only happen at the grass-roots level either. During he primary season prior to the last election, there were plenty of well known conservative pundits who seemed on a mission to destroy one candidate or another over an obscure statement or policy decision. I’ve even recently seen a pundit justify this by stating that it is nothing more than a case of someone being upset because their favorite candidate was rigorously vetted.
I couldn’t disagree more. Unfortunately, conservatives seemed to be less concerned with winning elections than with so-called purity tests; it seems to me that these pundits have their favorite who meets their “test” and decided to destroy anyone else who does not pass (see Rick Perry and Guardasil for a good case study). All these purity tests do is further divide and fracture us, and leave us with a candidate who is nothing more than the last man standing, and frequently not the most conservative (see Romney, Mitt*). This is why we lose.
If conservatives ever want to get their “mojo” back, it’s time to emulate the Super Bowl Champions and stick together through the tough times in a unity of purpose. We need to stop the petty bickering and falling for the trap of wedge issues that will be coming fast and furiously at us. Most of all, we would do well to remember the Reagan 80% Rule:
My 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy