Millions of fans watched in dismay as the defending Super Bowl champions – the Seattle Seahawks – lost to the New England Patriots in the final 30 seconds of the game yesterday. According to those in the know, making the call to throw the ball (which had been intercepted) rather than passing it, was the reason for this devastating loss.
With the exception of a little bit of a scuffle on the field right before the Patriots won, the Seahawks team has taken the high road in their discussion of the loss. In interviews, head coach, Pete Carroll, and quarterback, Russell Wilson, clearly showed the integrity and class of this organization. They recognized the abilities of the other team and they acknowledged that it was a great game. When asked about the decision to throw instead of run the ball, Carroll said: “That’s my fault, totally.” The coach took responsibility rather than throwing his offensive coordinator under the bus. It’s no wonder their fans, called the 12th Man, are so loyal.
Seahawks fans also seemed to take the high road. I have a colleague who is a Facebook friend. He is pretty outspoken at times and he was having some fun on the social network site as the game progressed, talking it up about how the Seahawks were going to trounce the Patriots. When they lost, I worried a little that Facebook was going to turn into a nasty battleground, but Seahawks fans didn’t go there. In fact, my Facebook friend – like many Seattle fans I saw on social media – congratulated the Patriots and their fans for a game well played, while still putting forward their admiration for the Seahawks team and organization, and re-affirming their loyalty to their team.
The Seattle Seahawks have a strong brand. Their brand promise appears to be “doing our best on and off the field.” That’s a pretty big brand promise, if you ask me. But talk to any Seahawks fan and they will tell you how great the people are who play for this team and who work for the organization. They are engaged in the Seattle community, do more than is expected in the area of charities and volunteering, and they always take the high road – even during high stress and incredibly disappointing moments, like yesterday.
The fans deliver on the brand promise too. As the 12th Man, they are the loudest fans in the league and the team encourages their participation and – as was clear on social media last night and today – they love their team, win or lose. While they would have preferred a win yesterday, the team, the organization and the fans showed true leadership in how they handled the loss. It was impressive.
I am sure that in the Seattle Seahawks’ post-game debrief, errors and mistakes will be reviewed by the players and coaches many times, and individuals will be held accountable for their decisions or actions – but they didn’t do that in public. That is a task that belongs within the walls of the organization and behind closed doors.
The Seahawks’ form of leadership and communication should be applauded. They fully deliver on their brand promise.