In football, it is all about the big play.
A game that normally takes 3 hours is condensed into a 3 minute highlight reel by the sports channels. They do this by simply replaying the big plays.
As a quarterback, there are traditionally 3 types of passes you can throw. The short pass, which is 10 yards or less. These plays are high percentage completions and not very exciting to watch. But they get the job done. Almost never replayed.
There is the intermediate throw which is usually between 10 and 20 yards. These are slightly riskier and more interesting, but unless someone makes a one handed catch, they too miss the cut when the highlights are shown.
Then there is the big play. This is a play that stretches for 20 yards or more. These types of plays don’t happen often, but when they do, you can rest assured that they will be replayed over and over again. They are exciting to watch.
Although they are considered a low percentage play, when a quarterback steps into a throw and launches the ball into the air, the crowd rises to its feet and holds its collective breath. As the ball reaches the end of its trajectory, the crowd will respond with a disappointed “Aaaahhhhh” if the ball hits the ground, having missed its intended target.
However, if the ball lands in the hands of the receiver the crowd will erupt in cheers. If the ball was caught for a game winning score, the pandemonium it creates as the crowd becomes drunk with ecstasy its second to none.
Paul Ryan’s speech last night reminded me of a quarterback in a football game.
As he began, he read the prompter and appeared nervous and unsure of his prepared speech. He completed low percentages passes; while not very exciting, they achieved their intended purposes of moving his agenda forward. I was unimpressed and slightly bored.
As he found his rhythm, Ryan became more animated and his time spent reading the prompter lessened. He began to take some risks with his speech. He appeared to go off script when he made a joke.
“I’ve heard some of Mitt’s music on the campaign trail. (Pause) I’ve also heard it in elevators.”
Politicians are usually stiff and boring. When they tell jokes you can tell someone else wrote it down for them. The delivery is often campy and poorly timed.
Paul Ryan, however, nailed his delivery.
This perked my interested. As he went off script, I caught a glimpse of the true man behind the politician. I saw the real man who could become the next Vice President. And I was intrigued.
His speech continued, and as the crowd responded to him, he took greater risks. He began launching the ball high into the air trusting to hit its intended target. I figuratively held my breath as I watched the ball sail through the air.
I was not disappointed.
Throughout the remainder of his speech, Paul Ryan continued to make the points he set out to make. But he also began to trust his instincts , going off script to deliver his point home.
“With all of his attack ads, the president is just throwing away money…… and he is pretty experienced at that.”
Addressing Medicare- “Our nation needs this debate. We want this debate. We will WIN this debate.”
“We need to stop spending money we don’t have!”
If he wants to continue to help this campaign win, he needs to trust his instincts more often. He needs to pull the trigger on what some might consider risky throws. His passion is contagious and exciting. He believes what he says. He didn’t spout off empty hyperbole. I trust his natural ability to speak the truth. More so than, say, the current Vice President.
As Ryan concluded his speech, I couldn’t help but see him cocking his arm back and firing a final Hail Mary pass, victory hanging in the balance. We will see where the ball lands in November. And I can’t wait.
Welcome to the highlight reel, Mr. Ryan.