Formula for the NFL, Politics, Everyday Living: Do the Right Thing Every Time

Written by Steve Pauwels on February 8, 2020

It’s probably not primo career strategy for a celebrity of any kind to dump on his fans – yet, it appears Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver Tyler Boyd missed that memo.

When Cinci’s team lost a late-season close one to the nearly equally dismal Miami Dolphins, a bunch of the former’s aficionados were relieved; figuring “doing so meant the Bengals wrapped up the first pick in the 2020 draft.” (Chris Roling /Bengalwire)

Not all the orange-and-black squad, however, were copacetic with those attitudes.

“[T]hose … aren’t true fans,” Dalton sniped. “If you’re a fan of the team, you want them to win, you want them to be successful. Every time you’re out there, you want to win.”

Boyd echoed his captain’s sentiments: “If they want us to lose then they ain’t true fans.”

Bottom line: What’s the right thing for a football team to do? Earn more points than their opponent every outing. Come out on top every chance they get.


Yep, doing the right thing works on the gridiron. In the long run, it’ll work in the remainder of life, too.

Can we all agree living is plenty complicated as is? That there’s no need to make it gratuitously more-so?

I’m reminded of this hardy guideline when I see people — politicians, commentators, regular folks — overthinking the dilemmas that confront them.

It’s not often you’ll hear me quoting Spike Lee favorably, but thirty years ago he directed a film the title of which ought to be the lodestar for all decision-taking: Do the Right Thing.

Enjoy that particular movie or not, its title is the way to go, always: Just do the right thing — every time, in every place, in every situation. Not the shortsightedly comfortable, convenient or clever thing. No, no — simply the right thing.

Lots would respond: Duhhh, that’s no-brainer advice. Still, look around: It won’t take long to recognize that, obvious as that maxim might seem, multitudes either don’t know it, or choose to disregard it.

Recently, National Review’s Kevin Williamson, analyzing former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s presidential run, reflected:

Bloomberg raises a tricky question of political calculation: Should the Right encourage the growth of a (relatively) moderate and (relatively) pragmatic tendency in the Democratic party as a way of boxing in the daft enthusiasms of its ascendant socialists, or should the Right instead prefer to see the Democrats let their freak flag fly, on the theory that this will make them easier to beat.

For conviction conservatives, the proper answer is easy-peezy:  Do the right thing: Wherever Leftism raises it’s big-government, collectivist, anti-Christian noggin, thump it. Hard.

By all means, root spiritedly against Bloomberg. His benign temperament notwithstanding, the Big Apple billionaire wants to control his fellow citizens down to super-taxing their sugary drinks. (“Grab ’em by the Slurpee,” jibes Williamson). So the guy affects a patina of moderation on some matters? He remains insupportable, brimming with authoritarian policy instincts. Under no consideration should Michael Bloomberg come within the vicinity of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

That’s not to say limited-government Republican types should long for Bloomberg’s even more frothingly progressive rivals to capture their party. Admittedly, from a bloodlessly utilitarian perspective such a development might, indeed, boost the electoral prospects of the GOP down the road. It would additionally continue mainstreaming the worst of Progressive leanings society-wide. The end result?  The “Overton Window” skewing more secularist-commie-lib — and culture, the country and individual voters feeling the brunt of that malignant evolution.

Every Democratic candidate lining up to seize the Oval Office should be repudiated. They’re all terrible, all unacceptable, must all be denounced unstintingly because their agenda and ideals are bad for America.

If somebody loves the nation, rejecting them all, absolutely? The right thing.

A similar calculus can be applied to December’s extermination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani: How will Iran react? analysts probed. What might be the worldwide caliphate’s response? Will jihadist backlash be provoked?

All those queries aside: Was it the right action to take? If Yes, it’s good that it was carried out. Period. The blunt determination is the Iranian terror-chief abetted the killing and maiming of our forces abroad. That alone means he had to die — that’s a cardinal obligation of responsible governments. You plan and/or carry out attacks on our citizens, you pay the ultimate price.

The right thing.

Thomas Jefferson admonished: “The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. … Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail.”

The Trump tax cuts: Did they stimulate the economy? Fatten the deficit? Reward the “rich”? A deep-dive into the brain-cramping numbers indicates general benefits generated and some drawbacks, too, on multiple levels. But what’s the right thing? Washington confiscates too much money from society’s producers and firehouses it on projects it ought not. So, cut taxes? Indubitably. And slash spending ambitiously, as well.

The right thing.

See how straightforward that is? Maybe a challenge to implement, but a relative cinch to figure out.

Friedrich Hayek coined the phrase “the fatal conceit”, identifying the delusion that people — individuals or governments — can troubleshoot every problem, forecast every eventuality.

Nope. The grueling iron law of “unintended consequences” too often prevails.

Whenever clearheaded individuals hear talk of any person — presidents included —engaging in “four-dimensional chess”, convoluted scheming, end-justifies-the-means conniving — they should punch the pause button. Cynical rule-breaking and ethics-eschewing predictably swing back to ambush those who employ them.

The alternative? The right thing.

An untimely pregnancy scuttles one’s plans; and could be remedied with a quick abortion? Functioning adults don’t — and won’t — work; but demand never-expiring public assistance from those who do? Thousands violate the integrity of a nation’s borders; then expect an open-arms welcome from non-lawbreakers?

What to do? How about the right thing?

Lately, even in certain sizable quarters of conservativism, the notion of hewing to one’s much-touted values has fallen into some disfavor: “Muh principles!” sarcastically scoff the amoral operators among us. What matters is “winning”, they lecture contemptuously – no matter the cost, compromise, moral malfeasance.

“Winning” may arrive, sure — but winning what? And losing what along the way?

Meanwhile, those embracing a biblical worldview can resolve to do right in every circumstance – paraphrasing the Latin proverb, do it “though the stars fall.” The Christian can be secure letting the consequences repose in God’s hand.

As the late-Keith Green sang a generation ago: “Just keep doin’ your best, and pray that it’s blessed, Jesus takes care of the rest.”

It’s an unfailingly “winning” formula when the Creator of the Universe is pulling for you:  Do right.

Steve Pauwels is pastor of Church of the King, Londonderry, NH and host of Striker Radio with Steve Pauwels on the Red State Talk Radio Network. He's also husband to the lovely Maureen and proud father of three fine sons: Mike, Sam and Jake.