“Trick Play” Reveals A Business Idea For The NFL

Written by Mike Shapiro | | February 5, 2018

Everyone’s talking about The Play in yesterday’s Super Bowl — the one the Patriots tried (but failed) and then the Eagles tried (and succeeded). And any mention of it usually involves characterizing it as a “trick” or “cutesy” play.

What’s so special about it? Apparently two things: 1. Someone other than the quarterback passed the ball, and 2. The pass was thrown TO the quarterback.

There’s nothing in the rules that says only the quarterback can or should pass the ball, that he’s not allowed to receive a pass or, for that matter, that anyone on the field is supposed to perform only certain functions and refrain from others. But that’s what it’s come down to: Increased specialization of roles and pre-set, choreographed and rehearsed plays, dictated by the coach from the sidelines. The result: A game that’s become predictable and totally lacking in any spontaneous initiative. When you think about it, this is completely counter to trends in virtually every other endeavor in sports, entertainment and business, where disrupters appear almost daily with new ideas that challenge conventional ways of solving customer needs.

The fact that it’s so outside the norm that commentators call it a trick or cute when another player tosses the ball to the quarterback, is stark evidence of a complete lack of disruption in the game as it’s currently being played.

Just the other day, in a hand-wringing article in the Wall Street Journal, Ahead of Super Bowl, Poll Shows NFL Is Losing Its Core Audience, the author and the people interviewed cited heightened sensitivity about head injuries and increased use of the game as a platform for political statements as possible reasons for loss of audience interest in the games. But nobody mentioned the fact that the game has lost its capacity to surprise its audience!

Even today, in the midst of the excitement generated by one single play that went against convention, nobody seems to be connecting the idea that bringing some surprises back to games during the season might get some viewers back!


USE IT NOW: If you wait for one of your rivals or an upstart to do something you or your customers haven’t seen before, it’s not going to do any good to label it as a trick or cute. Have your products and the way you present them become boring and predictable to your customers and competitors? Is it time to shake up your playbook? Act now.