The Onside Kick


This is the 28th in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.

The cheerleaders were turning triple flips.
The bands were breaking the sound barrier.
The 102,000 fans were roaring.
Football underdog was meeting football powerhouse.
Underdog lost the toss and had to kick.
It was an onside kick!
A strategy usually used near the end of a game, rarely at the beginning.
Fans gulped.
Piccolo player swallowed his piccolo.
TV commentator got hiccups.
Underdog got ball.
Sis plays later, touchdown!
If you’re an underdog and don’t want to stay that way, try the unexpected for a quick score.
If you’re an overdog, watch out for clever underdogs.

My first thought when reading this was remembering the Super Bowl back in 2010 when the New Orleans Saints opened the second half with an onside kick that completely fooled the Indianapolis Colts.

(The onside kick is the first minute of the video above.)

The play was certainly unexpected; it was the first time such a kick had been used in a Super Bowl before the fourth quarter.

And just like the United Technologies ad suggested, the unexpected led to a quick score by the Saints, and is considered by many a key turning point in the game.

I also think a key takeaway from the ad is the importance of changing your routine occasionally.

Steven Petrow just wrote a great article about this in the New York Times two weeks ago. Petrow talks about how his yoga teacher encouraged the class to try doing simple things differently, such as sitting in a different location at class or switching which leg goes on top of the other leg during one of the poses.

The yoga teacher told the class, “With mindfulness we can purposefully choose a new and different way to act.” Petrow viewed it as a challenge to carefully consider many of the habits he had acquired, which led him, in his words, to wonder if he was sleepwalking through life.

So it seems that doing the unexpected, doing something different, not only can catch an opponent off guard, but it can lead to positive changes in one’s life.




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