four football players

Playing For Each Other- A Football Cliche Goes Deep

It’s Super Bowl week! All the football cliches are on full display this time of year. “Leave it all on the field.” “Take one game at a time.” You know the rest of them…. But there’s one sports cliche that caught my attention more than usual over the past few weeks- playing for each other.

When a team says they play for each other, what do they mean? I thought they just meant that each player didn’t want to be the one to screw up, costing the team, disappointing their teammates and wasting all of the work that went into reaching the goal.

It does mean that, but it also goes much deeper than I gave it credit for. Recently, in an interview I can no longer find a link to, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts explained the concept of playing for your teammates in deeper detail.

Hurts talked about how everybody in life is going through something, whether they play football or not.  It may be a financial trouble, a health situation, volatile family relationships, you name it.  At each point in our lives, we as humans have stuff to deal with.  It usually isn’t easy.

Sometimes we call on others for help.  Sometimes we’re the ones offering help.  Either way, we get tied in to others by helping them deal with whatever it is they’re faced with. And that takes effort by both parties.

Layered on top of that normal life stuff, is an athlete’s goal and everything that’s tied into that;  The physical training, the health and wellness regimen, the practice, the hope for an opportunity, the luck to not get injured and miss that opportunity.

With lots of hard work, support from others, and some luck, a player might possibly get themselves into position to achieve their goal, in this case, win a Super Bowl.

But football, like life, is a team game.  Besides handling our own business on the field, we need our teammates to handle theirs.  If they don’t, all of our fates are effected.  So are the fates of everybody who helped get that player into position; teammates, coaches past and present, parents, family members, friends, counselors, teachers, you name it.  Everybody who helped get that player to where they are, has energy invested.

Playing for each other doesn’t just mean not wanting to disappoint teammates and those who have helped along the way.  It’s also a way of honoring the collective efforts of everyone involved, past and present.  Beyond that, it asks each member of the team to honor other’s stories as much as their own.

Playing for each other.

The concept is quite powerful when you take it to this level.

Imagine being on the field, playing with this mentality.  How would it effect your actions? Would you give that extra effort for the team, even when you had little or no energy left?  I think so. Now multiply that by every player on the field.

Can playing for each other be replicated in everyday life?  I think it can.

We call it community.  A strong community mimics the love and selflessness of the team that plays for each other.  Everybody counts on everybody to acknowledge, understand and value everybody.  And everybody benefits.

May we all play for each other.

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17 thoughts on “Playing For Each Other- A Football Cliche Goes Deep

  1. I love this Todd. It really does show the interconnectedness of community and how we can shape and influence without even being aware of how our actions help. As you say, we are part of a bigger community, and we should be aware of that and how we develop this supportive network of relationships. At least that’s what I’ve taken from your message 😁

    1. I’m with Brenda — thanks for your post, Todd and Brenda’s comment about being part of a bigger community…makes me think of concentric circles of goodness. I love that imagery. Yes, yes, yes! 😊

  2. It’s a dichotomy. We are intrinsically selfish. But we want to help other people too. I believe that is an intrinsic part of our nature. The difference is helping or playing for others gives us the lasting peace we really crave. The lasting peace we fail to find when only thinking of and acting for ourselves. Great post Todd!

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