While watching MNF on ESPN last night, there was one play that caught my attention more than any other - and there were plenty of exciting plays. That one play involved rookie RB Phillip Lindsay powering a 1-yard run up the middle for a TD with 2:05 left in the 3rd quarter, giving the Broncos a 7 point lead. The Chiefs went on to win the game, 27-23, so why was this TD run so impactful?
The answer is in how the TD was celebrated as much as the actual play itself. Sure, Lindsay fought hard to make the goal line and his offensive line never quit until he crossed that line. But it was how Lindsay reacted to the TD that really caught my eye.
After getting to his feet, Lindsay was surrounded by his teammates with high fives and headslaps abundant. But instead of auditioning for "Dancing with the Stars" with a new fancy dance routine, Lindsay chose to share his celebration with his offensive linemen. In fact, he handed the ball to his OT Garrett Bolles allowing him to spike the ball in celebration.
Some may wonder why Lindsay would do this, but those who followed Lindsay's college career knew his intentions right away. "It starts up front with these guys," Lindsay was quoted as saying during a press conference following a Colorado victory over Arizona State in October, 2016, where Lindsay rushed for 219 yards and 3 TDs. Lindsay stood at that press conference with his offensive linemen surrounding him. When asked multiple times why he was so successful that game, Lindsay consistently deferred to his offensive line pointing out how hard they work but never get recognition. "All I have to do is run" he said.
So when Lindsay gained that one critical yard to make the end zone Monday night, he immediately knew who got him there. And instead of taking the opportunity to shine the spotlight on himself, he did what he has done in the past and shared his success with his teammates. We don't see a lot of this behavior in the NFL these days, so seeing Lindsay handle himself in this manner was what really captured my attention.
Youth sports provide a number of benefits to kids, coaches and families, and the concept of TEAMWORK is one we should be instilling at an early age. No one player is more important than another because without each other they're simply individual players running around on the same field. This is especially true in the sport of football where it takes all 11 players on the field to execute their assignment in order to run a play. And all it takes is one missed assignment for the entire play to fail.
Most youth football players strive to play the "skill" positions - Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver - as this is likely due to the fame and recognition that often come with these positions at the professional level. But if we teach young players the importance of all positions at an early age, they'll not only become better teammates but will also be more versatile and setup for greater success as they develop.
Check out SMASH Routes - The Playbook Game to see how we can help you achieve this with your team. Your players will know the job of every position on the field and work better as a unit. And when you start to see your players independently help each other on the field, you'll know that leaders are being groomed.