Tuesday morning quarterback
In the aftermath of the defeat, it is easy to poke holes in the game plan, to second guess decisions, to know better what would have delivered a victory. Kick the field goal with 6 minutes to go, take the points and let the defense give you another shot to win. Go no-huddle to get the “D” on its heels and slow down the pass rush. Throw to your biggest target on the 2-point conversion and let him make the play. On Monday morning, we all know the right call. Woulda, shoulda, coulda.
The Tuesday morning quarterback, however, offers an entirely different perspective. We recognize–a day removed from the emotion, the pain, the lingering heat of the moment–that more goes into a decision than the information we have. We are not the ones on the field, in the battle, feeling the ebb and flow, sensing the momentum and energy level of those truly engaged. Our new perspective allows us to forgive, to look ahead, and maybe even to acknowledge that the events over which we excoriate have no lasting affect on our happiness, our sense of self, our lives.
Perhaps it is in anticipation of our “Tuesday morning quarterback” nature that God tells us upon our arrival at Sinai to sanctify ourselves for 2 days and to be prepared “on the third day” for the revelation of God’s presence. On Day One we arrive at the mountain and encamp, probably exhausted from a two-month journey. No doubt we are dissatisfied with the accommodations, the weather, the menu. By Day Two, we all know a better place we could have stayed; some of us claim we would have been better off had we stayed in the comfortable surroundings of our subjugation. Enter Day Three, and we are looking ahead, ready to take in the sights and sounds that signal a new beginning.
The same can be said about the way we manage conflict or offer criticism in general. In the heat of the moment, our emotions get in the way of objective evaluation and constructive feedback. In the aftermath, we are good at recognizing what we would have done differently. In the after-aftermath, we can exercise empathy, understand motivating factors, evaluate our own desire to critique, and determine how–and even if–caring criticism is to be offered.
Sure, we will probably fall back on old patterns at some point. Every Sunday afternoon quarterback has a Monday morning waiting on the other side of the dawn. Win or lose, the quarterback will be second-guessed. But Tuesday will come, and with it the wondrous possibilities of the many Sundays to follow.
Rabbi Craig Scheff