What do Joshua Patrick Allen and Donald John Trump have in common? More than you might think.
Having played the game and having been an avid fan for at least the last 75 years, I love football. For the past 60 years, my interest in football has been focused on the University of Wyoming Cowboy Football team.
Thus, it was no surprise that my wife Debby (a former Wyoming Sugar Bowl cheerleader) and I joined thousands of other Wyoming fans in front of the television set last weekend to watch UW’s former quarterback, Josh Allen, lead his Buffalo Bills on a quest for the American Conference championship and the right to play in the 2021 Super Bowl.
Watching the Buffalo – Kansas City game wasn’t unlike the feeling we had sitting down in front of the TV on a Tuesday night last November to watch the election returns and cheer for Donald J. Trump.
Having participated in politics my entire adult life and having run for state-wide political office twice, you might say I’m also a “fan” of the “contact sport” (thank you Al Simpson) known as “politics”.
As we watched Josh Allen’s season come to an end Sunday night, I thought about the parallel disappointments of Allen’s last game of the season and the ending and aftermath of Trump’s 2020 campaign.
Josh’s football season in 2020 was a collection of record -setting triumphs; of achievement both personal and athletic, performed in front of adoring fans and admirers.
Team records for single season pass completions, passing touchdowns, total touchdowns and percentage completions, all were broken by Allen this year. His charity work in Buffalo also endeared him to his adopted home town.
Yet his season came to an end in a rather ignoble, childish fashion, uncharacteristic of the man that Josh has become. Toward the end of the game, I watched as Josh’s protection broke down and he was sacked behind the line of scrimmage by the Kansas City defense.
In frustration Allen threw the football at the player who had tackled him, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from the referee and initiating a melee among players.
His toss in the direction of the defender had to have been Allen’s most pathetic throw of the season, half-hearted at best, and not meant to do injury, but unsportsmanlike none the less. Though a product of frustration, poor judgment and emotion, because his conduct was not egregious Allen was not removed from the game nor pulled from the lineup by his coach.
Donald Trump’s term as President was filled with accomplishments just like Josh Allen’s season. And, like Allen’s season, it came to an end on a discordant note.
A four-year run of accomplishments – trade deals like the USMCA, criminal justice reform, immigration law enforcement, a barrier along the Mexican border, energy independence, peace in the middle east, “warp speed” vaccine development, and the list goes on – was followed by a serious error in judgment, resulting in considerable consequence – a Washington rally in which a good faith (I’m convinced) invitation to walk up Pennsylvania Ave. to the Capitol to protest the election, was extended to enthusiastic, law abiding supporters as well as a few screwballs.
A riot ensued, planned and instigated by troublemakers. Though not egregious, the President’s words to those gathered on the Mall were ill-considered and, like Allen’s unsportsmanlike conduct, the product of frustration, emotion and poor judgment.
The Dems in the House (along with a few Republicans) threw the flag- this time for an ill-conceived impeachment in the final days of the administration. Unlike Allen’s penalty, the purpose of the Trump penalty – impeachment – was clearly to remove Trump permanently from the game.
Their critics might say that what Trump and Allen have in common is being sore losers. There is some truth in a saying attributed to the legendary Vince Lombardi: “show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser”.
But neither Donald Trump nor Josh Allen are “losers”, whether “good” or “sore”. That both men were frustrated and emotional as the clock ran out, I can agree. For certain ,neither man likes losing. Both enjoy, “winning, winning, winning”. The expectation of winning is in their DNA. That is, at least in part, why they are leaders with loyal followers.
In neither Allen’s nor Trump’s case, do the penalties assessed seem to have affected the esteem their respective followers ( in Wyoming there is considerable overlap of followers) hold for the two men.
The Buffalo, N.Y. media reported that hundreds of Bills’ fans turned out at the Buffalo airport early on Monday morning following the Sunday night game. The fans chanted, “we still believe”. Upon arrival, Josh Allen promised those assembled that their team would again play for the championship: “I got no doubt we will be back” he assured them.
Like the Buffalo fans, on the day of the inauguration hundreds of Trump fans lined Southern Blvd in West Palm Beach to welcome the Trump family home to Florida.
A media report described the scene: “The impromptu street party was filed with flags, dancing and loud music as his supporters prepared for Trump’s arrival…” “It’s like the Super Bowl” a supporter remarked to a reporter.
Earlier in the day, at a departure ceremony in Washington, Trump promised to return, saying he and his team had, “left it all on the field”. A week later Allen would say much the same.
I would bet against neither.
Ray Hunkins is a retired attorney and rancher who was the Republican nominee for the office of Wyoming governor in 2006.