Epic Leadership Lessons from Super Bowl 50

February 25, 2016

Football season is over and while the Super Bowl ‘game’ itself was less than a tantalizing experience, the post-game experience for me was EPIC. Why? Because I coach young Quarterbacks and young Quarterbacks look up to NFL players like Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. There were lessons to be learned watching these Quarterbacks before, during and particularly after the game. Young aspiring Quarterbacks not only try to model the game time mechanics but more importantly they model the behaviors of popular College and NFL QBs. They watch their body language on the field and on the sidelines and they watch them perform in pre-game and post-game interviews. As a former High School football coach I can tell you in no uncertain terms, far too many young athletes don’t have a strong influence at home who can help them interpret and digest what they see from their idols on television.


There is no doubt that Cam Newton is an incredibly talented athlete who has and will continue to have a huge impact on the game of football. Like it or not, that impact gives him a HUGE ‘platform’ to stand on which allows him to impact young lives. The question is, will this impact be positive or a negative?


I got home after the Super Bowl and turned on the TV. I watched Cam Newton’s short post-game interview with frustration. I knew that it would immediately be the source of much banter on social media. Why? Because he broke a universal law of leadership. There are certain universal laws leadership that humans have come to understand. Laws that when broken – rub against our inherent grain and cause mere mortals to become incensed with anger. The type of anger that presents itself as attacking behavior on social media, on television and at the very least in our discussions with friends.


To understand how a ‘universal law’ of leadership was violated, one that upsets our inherent beliefs at our core, we need go back to evolutionary times. After all, we’re talking about human nature and natural human contracts that are formed over time.


In anthropological times, mankind lived in small tribes. Over time this turned into small villages. Eventually, natural human laws that were established became part of the human DNA as it exists today in our larger and more ‘complex society’ but yet still a society as it were in earlier days.   Back in the time of small tribes and villages leaders emerged. These leaders were what we now call the ‘alpha’ beings. There were both alpha males and females. Typically, they were people of great physical strength, they were brave and accomplished hunters and warriors. The reward for their abilities was an elevation in their society. They were given power and control. They were also ‘served’ by others. They had the best cut of meat or the freshest fruit when it was time to eat. They had their choice of the best mate when it came time for that. This was the natural order of things and it’s really not much different today. It’s simply evolved as our society has evolved. Today our leaders are still served in much the say way but it looks a little different. Their status is shown in the form of high salaries, media attention and access to special privileges. These are the benefits and rewards of leadership status.


The important thing to understand however, is that this status is not FREE! First, it is earned and later it comes at a cost. Let’s go back to our earlier human times again. When the tribe was threatened, the leader – the strong warrior was expected to be the one to pick up his club or his sword and defend his tribe or his village. You see, leadership comes at a cost. It co