By Paul White, 2-12-24
The moments that will NOT linger in the history of Super Bowl LVIII, as interesting as many of them were, include: the exciting finish to a well-played game, the hoopla of the Super Bowl’s first Las Vegas appearance, Usher’s excellent half-time show, and the Taylor Swift phenomena taking over the build-up to the Big Game.
The moment that sadly, will be etched forever in America’s culture is the image of the gargantuan 6′ 5″, 250 pound Kansas City Chief player Travis Kelce shoving, screaming in the face of, and humiliating in front of over 100 million people his 65 year-old Head Coach Andy Reid.
What terrible thing had Reid done to justify Kelce’s outrageously inappropriate behavior? Incredibly, this future Hall-of-Fame coach had the nerve to make a very normal decision, i.e., NOT to play Kelce in EVERY single minute of the game.
Big egos like Kelce’s don’t respond well to having to share the limelight. His pride and arrogance, combined with the high-stakes game, understandably overwhelmed his self-control. But by shoving and screaming in his coach’s face on the sidelines, Kelce crossed-a-line-you-never-cross.
Reid should have instantly banished Kelce to the locker room, demanded a full apology in front of the entire team at halftime, and things would have been back to normal in the second half.
But that is not what happened.
Reid was too overwhelmed – too caught up in this Big Game and the mega-money and publicity it generates He lost sight of the fact that like all pro sports, it’s just a child’s game played by adults; and worrying about its outcome should NOT have priority over maintaining with his players the essential societal values of respect for authority, humility, unselfishness, and self-control.
But at that moment, Andy Reid did not have that moral strength and clarity. Kelce stayed on the field and Reid put him back into the game.
In post-game interviews,Reid decided to downplay the incident, joke about his failure to discipline Kelce, and even made excuses for Kelce’s assaultive behavior. It was painfully embarrassing to watch. “He’s a competitive kid, and just loves to play,” was one of the more humiliating excuses that Reid offered.
NO, Andy – Travis Kelce is NOT a “kid.” He showed himself in that particular incident to be a spoiled, over-paid grown man who was simply acting like a child – a child in great need of a morally strong male figure to give him consequences for his inexcusable behavior.
Unfortunately, Andy Reid did not provide Kelce Travis with the moral lesson he needed at that moment MUCH more than he needed another Super Bowl ring.
It would take far more words than would fit in this space to describe the lasting damage Reid’s moral cowardice did to America’s future character by allowing Kelce’s outburst to go unchallenged. Tens of millions of young men and women play football and other sports as a game and NOT as a career. Countless parents, teachers, and coaches work with these children, attempting to use sports as just a vehicle for teaching them that more important than winning or losing a game, is living your life with values like respect, unselfishness, and self-control.
That task has never been easy. It will be much harder now because the lesson Andy Reid taught America’s young people is that if the Game is big enough – if the Star is important enough, moral values don’t apply.