Danny Trevathan, a rising young player with the NFL’s Denver Broncos, was on all the TV sports highlight reels after his team’s opening game victory this past week. But he likely won’t want to check out his own highlights.
The second year linebacker, an important part of the Broncos’ future, intercepted a Joe Flacco pass in the third quarter of the season-opening game against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on September 5. The Broncos were leading at the time and, after his impressive play on the interception, Trevathan proceeded to run with the ball toward the Baltimore end zone. However, he started his touchdown celebration prematurely. As a result, he dropped the ball and it ended up rolling through the end zone, costing his team a touchdown.
The Broncos were able to laugh about the miscue after the game, which they ended up winning fairly handily by a score of 49-27. But shortly after Trevathan’s mistake, the Ravens launched a comeback and nearly got back into the contest.
Had the Ravens completed the comeback, Trevathan’s error would have stood out as the “play of the night”, maybe the play of the season—for all the wrong reasons.
Games in any professional sport are obviously very competitive. Emotional reactions are natural and at times players will go a bit over the top in their celebrations when things go well. That’s understandable—to a point.
For some fans, the on-field celebrations have gotten to be too much. For others, the theatrics are part of the entertainment package. But when celebrations detract from team success, it becomes an issue. In this instance, Trevathan was so interested in getting ready to celebrate his personal success on a play, he didn’t conclude the task at hand—complete the interception and run it back all the way to the end zone for a touchdown.
This is not the first time a player has done this and it won’t be the last. But it’s a reminder of the importance of staying focused on your real goal. Celebration comes after the achievement—not before.
After the game, Trevathan acknowledged his act (focusing on the celebration before he reached the end zone) was a selfish one. As he put it, “It was a young mistake. It’s not going to happen again.”
Denver quarterback and team leader Peyton Manning said simply. “It was a mistake and he will learn from it.” Hopefully that’s the message young, often impressionable athletes will take away from watching Trevathan’s early celebration. Making big plays is great and it’s OK to feel good about success—and within limits, celebrate that success on the field. But the team comes first, and a player obviously never wants to do anything—driven by ego or a desire to showboat—that harms the team.
Players make mistakes all the time. In fact, at the youth level, developing players should be encouraged to try things so they will gain confidence. In that context, mistakes are a normal part of growth—in life and in sports. Physical errors happen in sports at all levels, including at the professional level. But when a mistake is rooted in ego, it’s not as easily acceptable.
Trevathan won’t do it again. Hopefully a few aspiring young players will keep his “mistake” in their own personal memory bank—and remind themselves not to follow his example if they are ever in that situation.