I watched as the LA Rams won the Super Bowl coin toss. When Jared Goff elected to defer the ball I knew the Patriots had just won their 6th Super Bowl. Go ahead, play the game, snoozer that it was, it won’t change the outcome. And it didn’t.
Let me be clear, Jared Goff did not make this decision on his own. The team had strategized and strategized the different options in the coin toss. It was widely known that if the Patriots won they would have elected to go on offense as they did in their divisional game.
I understand the decision from a football perspective. I don’t agree with the decision from a communicate-your-value perspective.
Quarterback Jared Goff at 24 would have been the second youngest QB to win the Super Bowl. Head Coach Sean McVay, at barely 34 years old, would have been the youngest coach to win the Super Bowl. Members of the Rams team were less experienced in the pressure and hoopla of a Super Bowl.
It made sense to let the Patriots receive the ball. The Rams game day jitters would do less damage on the defensive side of the ball. No embarrassing interceptions or lack of third down conversions.
The down side was that it telegraphed to the Patriots that the Rams were nervous, inexperienced in this venue, and scared. They might as well have put that message in neon on the super-sized score board: too scared to win.
I tweeted that they were wimps. I actually wanted to use stronger language. I so disagreed with the message that deferring the ball sent to the other team and the 100 million viewers around the world.
I understand that they didn’t mean to send that message. It doesn’t matter, the message was sent loud and clear.
The lesson that we can take from the coin toss: look at the message that your verbal, vocal or visual is sending. Not the message that you intended to send but the message that your audience received from their perspective. Don’t be too scared to win.