A lesson about capitalism from the Super Bowl

Those who appreciate Joseph Schumpeter’s notion of the importance of creative destruction, along with those who understand the importance of loss in a system of profit and loss, might appreciate John Tamny’s profile for Forbes of new Super Bowl championship coach Pete Carroll, “the NFL’s greatest failure.”

Notable about the ever ebullient Carroll is that he wasn’t always considered a winner. At one time he was very much seen as unsuited to the head coach’s role; so much so that he was unemployed. Carroll’s path to football’s elite was a checkered one, and it speaks to the wondrous, life enhancing value of failure as the driver of future success. Put plainly, when we shield individuals and businesses (think the bailed out banks and carmakers) from their errors, we perpetuate what makes them mediocre while robbing them of the knowledge that would make them successful. …

… What’s important to remember is that failure made Pete Carroll. He learned from his time with the Jets that the organization and owner one coaches for matters. The Jets had a culture of losing that ran all the way up to the person writing the checks. With the Patriots, Carroll similarly learned that the organization matters. Though now he’s easily one of the most savvy owners in the NFL, the Bob Kraft who hired Carroll in the ‘90s is not the Bob Kraft of today. Like Carroll, Kraft too has learned from early mistakes.

Carroll learned from being at USC that a culture of winning does matter, and during his time there he developed a keen eye for talent that has served him well in his third stint in the NFL. Carroll has said that absent the organizational structure offered him by Allen that he would not have taken the Seahawks job.

Happily for Carroll now, he’s once again a Super Bowl winning coach who has ascended to an elite echelon of coaches. Talented as he always was, it was failure at the NFL level that forced him to prove himself on the collegiate level, and it also provided this intensely competitive man who had been dismissed as pro-coaching material with the fuel to prove everyone wrong. Notable there is that Carroll helped pick players for his Super Bowl winning team that were underestimated much as he was. Russell Wilson was a 3rd round draft choice after being judged too short, shutdown cornerback Richard Sherman lasted until the 5th round, game MVP Malcolm Smith was a 7th round pick, and wideout Doug Baldwin wasn’t drafted at all. There’s no greater gift in life than that of being underestimated, and the naysayers ultimately did Carroll and his players a big favor in expressing their disdain.

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