Leadership Is Also Grace Under Pressure
So my team lost in the Super Bowl on Sunday, but I’m not disappointed. Thanks to the blackout, the 49ers took a breath, regrouped, and came back and made it a close game, led by a young quarterback starting only his tenth NFL game. I’m often not a big fan of professional sports, lacking enthusiasm for the self-adulation (see Randy Moss proclaiming himself to be the best ever wide receiver), the never-ending revelations of performance enhancing drugs, and bouts of thuggery (Ray Lewis never admitting what happened at the nightclub in Atlanta that left two people dead and Lewis charged with a double homicide).
But what I can celebrate this season is the graceful leadership of Alex Smith, the 49ers starting quarterback who was injured during Week Nine and sat out another game to recover after admitting he was still suffering the effects of a concussion. Of course Smith never recovered his starting role after replacement QB Colin Kaepernick ran with the opportunity to show his brilliance. At the time of his injury, Smith had led the 49ers to a winning record, and had the highest completion percentage in the NFL. Things were going his, and his team’s, way, but he never started another game for the 49ers this season. As LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke noted, “Smith is the epitome of the inherent unfairness that is present everywhere from the highest corporate office to the youngest Little League baseball team.”
At the same time, Smith is the epitome of responsible leadership, and selflessness in the face of disappointment. He went on to praise Kaepernick, mentor him, and maintain a positive approach throughout the run to the Super Bowl. Thanks to Smith’s maturity and grace, the team was able to unite behind Kaepernick. We should all perform so well under such difficult circumstances.
I hope Smith is rewarded with the opportunity to once again start for a Super Bowl contender next season.