I prefer college football to pro football, but I guess I was blessed growing up in Wyoming. We didn’t have a professional team to root for, so everyone adopted the Denver Broncos because they were semi-close, or the Cowboys or Steelers because they were dominant. I picked the Steelers and have been a loyal fan ever since.

I have to admit that I haven’t actually watched a single game all season, but I always check the happenings via the Internet. It amazes me how, at the end of the season, defense always seems to be the key. The Saints, Colts and Falcons were all lauded for explosive offenses and solid defenses, but it’s the teams with dominant defenses that seem to end up playing in the final weeks.

This is a long ways around of trying to make a football analogy to managing one’s business. Certainly, a key to every successful team or cattle operation is having the right quarterback or leader. They have to understand the dynamics of the game or market and be willing to take calculated risks.

I would equate a team’s offense to creating value; it’s not only exciting but makes life a whole lot easier and leads to big wins and increased margins. Still, having an explosive offense isn’t enough. You have to play defense and I would equate that to keeping production costs in line.

For you true football fans, I can hear you arguing that it takes more than a quarterback, a solid offense and a great defense; it also requires good special teams. I wouldn’t argue that, and I would equate special teams to risk management; when done properly, it allows you to win the battle of field position, helps you score field goals, and provides the occasional touchdown. Risk management does that for cattle producers by keeping them from taking the big hits, so to speak.

Build a strong defense (be a low cost producer), take care of special teams (manage risk), and you will have a chance to succeed. Couple those with the right quarterback (strong aggressive leadership), and an explosive offense (value creation), and you have the prescription for wins and profitability.
-- Troy Marshall