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Etan Bednarsh

Etan Bednarsh

Posted: November 17, 2008 02:32 PM

The Key to Continued Obama Success: Hand it Off to Brandon Jacobs; Oh, and Get a Pass Rush


I can still feel the joy of that night. I had spent months anticipating the event. I had watched the momentum slowly build over the course of the improbable run, and I had been moved, transformed from a passive viewer into a true believer, a fan who dared to dream of a simple but elusive goal: winning.

I can still feel the glow of the day after. I walked the streets of New York with my head held high, propped up by the confidence that comes with victory. As my eyes met their counterparts on similarly exalted faces, I exchanged knowing nods, prideful glances, and high fives. The whole city felt like it was celebrating, its citizens acting like Chotchkie's employees, adding buttons and hats, each one attempting to reach the requisite number of pieces of flair.

"After all," I thought, "We took down an evil empire!" In retrospect, I realize that my thoughts may have been too hyperbolic. I certainly don't think I needed to add the exclamation point, for example. My joy remains, though. Even if they weren't evil, this was a regime that had succeeded off the back of illegal spying. It was a leadership characterized by secrecy and evasiveness. Worst of all, they seemed to take pride in the whole enterprise of it, running up the score against toothless opposition.

I know, it sounds cheesy. But that's the way I honestly felt when the Giants won the Super Bowl.

Those feelings have been replicated once since February, thirteen days ago (really, it's been less than two weeks) when Barack Obama was elected the next president of the United States. I am not raising the parallel feelings to draw a comparison between my exuberance, nor to make an insightful distinction regarding how people appropriate their emotional investments. The comparison is much more fundamental: If Barack Obama wants to succeed as President, he should follow the example of the New York Giants.

The Giants won the Super Bowl, as Obama won the election, but doubts remained. Eli Manning was said to be too inexperienced to carry the Giants in the long term. It was a fluke that they won, said the dissidents, and there is no way this will be a harbinger of long term success. But the Giants have won nine of their first ten games this season, and they have dominated while doing it, validating their earlier victory.

What Barack Obama should note is how the Giants are winning. In a year, when other teams are succeeding off the back of gimmicks- the wildcat set with a running back at offense, or throwing the ball to the quarterback, the Giants have been remarkably boring. They seem to never try trick plays. They rarely even take chances on deep bombs. The Giants players have bought into the team concept, and as a team they are simply better than their competition at the basics. Why try Hail Mary passes when you can hand the ball off and continue to win?

Barack Obama is now building his team, and this is the model he should be striving for in two respects. The first respect is the need for team building. A lot has been made of Obama seeking to build a "Team of Rivals" in his cabinet. Let's hope that the team part is emphasized as much as the rival aspect has been. The Giants are a team who splits carries between three running backs without complaint. Earlier in the season, Plaxico Burress, their best wide receiver, skipped out on the team. The Giants played, and won, without him. In a true team, no individual is more important than the whole, and no one's personal goals outweigh the allure of team success. Obama's secretaries need to know that the goals of the team of rivals have to overshadow their own personal ambitions.

The second lesson to be gleaned from the Giants is their style: Keep it basic. One gets the sense that Obama has confidence in his ability to govern and to lead, and if you are good, like the Giants are, you can win effectively without having to make a splash. The Obama administration's first 100 days should be about the basics. They don't need to do anything drastic. They should worry about the ground game, the basics, the economy, and keep up a strong defensive presence.

The Giants are setting an example of how to validate a victory. They are proving their mettle. They are showing that they are not a fluke. Obama now has the opportunity to do the same, and if he follows the Giants example, he can lead his own Big Blue, and thereby all of us, to the promised land, or at least the land that America promises to be.