Deflategate And Our Jealous Souls

There are two primary ways someone can approach the accomplishments and successes of another: The first is by observing and studying said success as a means of growth and personal development. The second is visualizing their achievements through a lens of envy; seeking to lift one’s self up by pulling others down. What the past seven months have demonstrated is people’s natural inclination toward the second. I have witnessed grown men cry on TV, people compare air pressure to the illegal purchase and injection of anabolic steroids, and sports fans all over the world excitedly proclaim a hall of fame career to be void. One can’t help but look at this reaction and objectively ask, why? Why is it that rather than learn from an individual who has been to six Superbowls and is considered one of the most competitive human beings to ever play the game, people instead seek out any opportunity to tarnish the name? I find the sense of satisfaction associated with belittling greatness to be alarming.

Nothing was more comical than watching the parade of NFL analysts (most of whom are former players who spent years unsuccessfully attempting to take down the Brady regime) point fingers and throw accusations as if it were their chance to accomplish what they never could on the field. It was representative of the way we seem to collectively deal with our own problems, frustrations, and insecurities. Rather than build ourselves up, we seek out external, short-term remedies. We aim to enhance our own self worth by doing whatever we can to knock the other guy down a peg, as if diminishing his or her success increases our own.

This mentality has been front and center concerning Deflategate and the most recent court proceeding. That doesn’t mean, however, that it is a one-time occurrence. One could just as easily argue the same thing any time someone mentions a celebrity along the lines of Justin Bieber, or Tim Teebow, for example. While comparing the accomplishments of the three might be a stretch, there are certainly commonalities. All three are or were at the top of their game. Brady is arguably one of the most decorated football players of all time. Bieber is one of the most successful recording artists of our day. Tebow was a Heisman winning, championship NCAA quarterback. These are accolades most people could only dream about. Yet when any of their names are mentioned, the responses are almost always negative. Everything about them and their success is minimized. People dig for flaws and mistakes. They seek out ways to tear off the cloak of excellence.

Why not praise the qualities that made them all the best in their respective fields? What is the harm in acknowledging that a young pop singer from Canada has redefined the way we look at modern music? Clearly he knows a thing or two about capturing an audience and chipping away at a craft until achieving some variation of mastery. Similarly, Tim Tebow brings a level of work ethic and persistence to the table that I have never seen possessed by another human being. You’ll notice, however, that this is rarely discussed. You’re much more likely to see folks sit around and laugh about how his unorthodox throwing mechanics will keep him from flourishing in the NFL. It is the epitome of viewing the glass half empty instead of half full. This becomes a problem when the “half empty” folks end up with no water to drink. Their growth and development suffers. They spend more energy knocking down those who have made something of themselves than they do thinking about how to get their own lives to the next level. Negativity is a mindset, and if the last six months have shown us anything, it’s that it isn’t a very uncommon one.

I’ll wrap up by stating that this post shouldn’t be interpreted as my advocating for the world to love Tom Brady. Quite frankly, I couldn’t care less. What I want to get across is that for someone to be the best, for someone to repeatedly win, certain characteristics must be present. These are the characteristics from which we can all learn and grow. Studying accomplished people is an important component of anyone’s journey to success. Rather than take the easier, seemingly trendy road of downplaying success and minimizing results, seek out the recipe for excellence as it has been written and presented in plain view. There is a vast difference between having an opinion and being blind to reality, and if reality tells us anything, it’s that excellence is a rare commodity. Appreciate and learn from it.