Who to Blame?

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS October 14, 2013  #458  Up next…Who to Blame?

After further review…Blame, blame, blame; it’s one of our most renewable resources. But no, this is not about the federal government—unless you want it to be. This TUNNEYSIDE is about stepping-up to be responsible for your actions. Let me tell you a story.

During the NFL career of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (1969-1979), I was privileged to officiate many of his games. The Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles led by, respectively, the legendary Tom Landry and Ed Khayat, had what could be mildly described as a vicious rivalry. Late in one game at Texas stadium, the ‘Boys were leading the Eagles 38-0 when Staubach scrambled to his left to avoid a tackler, but tripped (sometimes those yard lines jump up at you). I trailed Staubach some five or six yards and saw that no defensive player had caused his fall; he was free to get up and continue. Yet it appeared that clumsy ‘ol number 12 was not trying to get up so I blew my whistle to consider him down. At precisely the same moment I noticed the ball bouncing away from him. That’s called a “loose ball” and may be advanced by either T*E*A*M. Eagles free safety Bill Bradley scooped it up and did just that, running  forty yards for an apparent touchdown. (Bradley was a University of Texas All-American and playing his first NFL game in his home state).

When Khayat heard the whistle, which stopped play, he started screaming unprintable evaluations of my judgment. I was 15 or so yards from him and did what I was taught to do. I walked the Eagles’ sideline toward the irate coach and said, “Ed, I kicked it! I shouldn’t have blown that whistle and you should have six points. But I can’t allow it”. Needless to say I was embarrassed, yet had to fortify my nerves to continue officiating.

Years later Khayat and I were at an NFL alumni event and he very cordially said, “Jim, you remember that call in Dallas some years back”? I sheepishly responded, “Ed, I sure do”. The coach then said, “When you admitted your error, you disarmed me. There was nothing else I could say since I’ve made mistakes and so have my players”.

Rudyard Kipling’s “IF”, long a source of inspiration for me, addresses such miscues with the lines…, “If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too… you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Will you step-up to your responsibilities and not blame others”

To contact Jim go to www.jimtunney.com or email him at jim@jimtunney.com.


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