Shining Light On A Shady Deal

lesean-mccoy-getty-5

LeSean “Shady” McCoy was the heart and soul of the Philadelphia Eagles. The star running back was the stellar backbone of the team. He was positive and productive, constant and consistent, steady and stable, all rolled up into one.  Shady was the emotional constitution of the Eagles.  He was their vital center and their vibrant core. He was their footing and their foundation, and now he’s gone.

“Shady” McCoy is not the name of a protagonist from an old western movie. It is, in fact, the cool nickname of the top-scoring running back in the NFL.  

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy received the nickname “Shady” from his mother as a baby, due to his constantly changing mood. McCoy’s mother said that her son would “go from smiling one minute to shy the next.” Shady can now stand for McCoy’s elusiveness on the field. A quick-shift running back, McCoy is there one second and gone the next. 

For some reason, the Eagles organization found it in their hearts to trade their bread and butter.    For some reason, the Eagles punted and parachuted the 2013 NFL Rushing Champion, their best player and their highest hope for bringing a Super Bowl to Philly.  In other words, in the eyes of the Philly faithful, the Eagles just bagged a big mistake. Or did they?

McCoy Rushing

Shady deals can be doubtful and debatable, dubious and devious, disenchanting and disappointing.  And everyone who’s got a heart, fans and foes alike, are leery and loopy, cynical and skeptical, in disbelief and downright dejected about this trade.

Shady is not an attribute or an attitude you want anyone you deal with to have.  Shady salesmen and shifty spokesmen never quite win you over. And this deal has all of the ingredients of a sour lemon. They say that the Eagles are “saving” money and banking salary, but tell that to a woman who now must ride the bus when she was accustomed to being chauffeured all over town.  The big numbers in this trade were $24.25 million and $1.69 million. The former is what McCoy is owed the next three years; the latter is what Kiko Alonso will make on his rookie contract this year and next, according to Spotrac.

lesean-mccoy

But it can’t be all about the money. McCoy has big shoes to fill. And yes the Eagles defense is detestable (actually, the Eagle’s “D” STINKS to high heaven!) and needs all of the help it can get; but fans would rather see addition rather than subtraction used to solve this mammoth math problem.

And so the deal is this: time will tell whether the Eagles made a good deal or no. Super Bowls are won and lost just as much off the field as on the field, and just as much during the off-season as during the regular season.  And it takes guts to make decisions that aren’t popular or pleasing to the naked eye, and yet are the right move to make.

Spiritually speaking, God made a shady deal too. He sent His Son, his only begotten Son, down to earth to redeem mankind from sin and shame. On the face of it, that was a shady deal. It was a tricky and risky, chancy and dicey deal fraught with uncertainty and filled with ambiguity, because it was based upon the free will of man. It was contingent upon man’s reception of Jesus Christ, and the only certainty was God’s love. The risk God took was that man had the freedom to accept or reject His love. But that deal worked out pretty good, and it continues to work out in the hearts of faithful believers every day.

And so, like my parents used to say: “we’ll see.” We’ll see if this trade works out. We’ll see if Coach Chip Kelly really knows what he’s doing. We’ll see if the Eagles can and will bounce back and move forward without McCoy. And as shady as it seems, this deal just might turn out all right after all. 

Playing King of the Hill: Getting On Top and Staying On Top Are Two Different Things

king-of-the-hill

Remember playing King of the Hill?  What fun, especially for those big kids who could throw the smaller ones around like rag dolls.  The goal of the game was not only to get to the top, but to stay on top.

I didn’t and don’t watch that crass and crude animated sitcom “King of the Hill,” and I hope you don’t either. Nonetheless, its popularity is undeniable. (Who watches that trash, anyway? — Somebody does).  Anyway, after its debut, the series became a large success for Fox Television and was named one of the best television series by various publications, including Entertainment Weekly, Time, and TV Guide. For the 1997–1998 season the series became one of Fox’s highest-rated programs and even briefly outperformed The Simpsons in ratings. Go figure.  “King of the Hill” was indeed atop of the TV game.

 We all want to get to the top. We strive and we struggle and attempt and attack projects and plans and desires and destinies all designed to get us to the peak and pinnacle of our game. But getting there, while it may be half the fun, it’s also only half the fight. We not only want to get on top, we want to stay on top.

My Maryland Terrapins are now ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll. Presumably, they’re the 10th best team in the Country right now. They’re still worse than the first and not better than the best, but they’re in the TOP 10! Go Terps!

So how do YOU get on top? Let the rest of us know, because what works for one should work for all, right? It’s a fight for first, and a fight to the finish. We all must do what it takes to win, while at the same time you must let the game come to you. Knowing you’re going to win is akin to being better than the best.

So how do you STAY on top? How to you stay on top of your game and your goals and your aims and your aspirations? You keep the pedal to the medal.  Keep your nose to the grind. Keep doing the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. Sounds easy, right?

So here’s to my team, the University of Maryland Men’s Basketball Team. They’re exceeding expectations, and surpassing all pre-season estimations.  Good for them. And my prayer is that we all do the same thing in this wide open, wacky and wonderful game called life.

The Bible way to get on top is to go straight to the bottom. The Biblical way to go up is to go down. It’s contrary to conventional thinking but it’s precisely and exactly what Heaven would have us to do. Spiritually speaking, we all need to humble ourselves, and then let God exalt us in due time. It’s the only sure-fire way to get, and stay on top.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 

1 Peter 5:6 KJV

Golden State Is A Golden Goose

steve-kerr-stephen-curry-nba-golden-state-warriors-850x560

Coach Steve Kerr still can’t believe how fast things have come together with the Warriors. It’s amazing. It’s astounding. It’s astonishing, and it’ll give you goose bumps, because he’s found a golden goose in Golden State that’s laying golden eggs almost every game. What’s so wonderful about the Warriors, you ask? Well, for starters, Kerr’s a first year coach coaching a competitive crew contending for the NBA crown. Is the coach or is it the players? I think is a combination of both that are combining to lay these golden eggs.

goldeneggs

Kerr came to California to coach after verbally committing to compliment his former counselor, Phil Jackson, in New York. He came that close to coaching the Knicks.  Wow.   (And in case you didn’t know, the Knicks STINK: at this writing, they’re 12 – 46.)  And now, instead of languishing with the last place team in the league, he’s winning with the Warriors.  The Warriors, with Phenom Steh Curry, are 45 – 11. Do the math.  He could have been coaching the worst team, but instead he’s coaching the best team. Sounds like a miracle instead of a mistake to me.

As a player, Kerr won five NBA titles (3 with Michael and ‘Da Bulls and 2 with Timmy Duncan in San Antonio with the Spurs). Kerr worked as a broadcaster during All-Star weekend for the last four years. This year, he was the game’s first rookie coach since Indiana’s Larry Bird in 1998, and he’s hoping it’s the first of many more appearances. Talk about a turnaround. And talk about making a good decision.  

And so the moral of the story is this: can the Golden State Warriors win it all?  Can they continue to win games and hearts and fans on the way to winning the whole shebang?   If they continue to do what they’ve been doing there’s no reason not the think so. 

Unfortunately, so many teams and certainly so many of us have started off awfully good only to finish up pretty bad. Just take a cue and learn the lesson from Aesop’s fable about the man with the golden goose:

A cottager and his wife had a Hen that laid a golden egg every day. They supposed that the Hen must contain a great lump of gold in its inside, and in order to get the gold they killed her. Having done so, they found to their surprise that the Hen differed in no respect from their other hens. The foolish pair, thus hoping to become rich all at once, deprived themselves of the gain of which they were assured day by day.

Steve Kerr is humble yet hopeful.  He’s taking life one game at a time. He’s had a good basketball education and he has a high basketball IQ. So let’s hope that Kerr and the Warriors keep doing the things that it took to get them to where they are, in hopes these same things will take them and us to where we want to go. 

“My goal is to someday become Phil Jackson and complain about having to coach the All-Star game,” Kerr said, chuckling. “But I’m not there yet.”

Good for you Steve; good for you.

Winning Is Serious Fun

terps-7451072786 (1)

No one likes to lose and everyone wants to win. While it’s that simple, it’s not that easy. And as they say, “it’s easier said than done.”  Winning is fun; its serious fun. And fun, Biblically speaking, is “joy.” Joy is a positive attitude or pleasant emotion; it means delight.  The joy which the people of God should have is holy and pure. This joy rises above circumstances and focuses on the very character of God.

It is a joy to win, and it is a downer to lose. In losing we learn life lessons. But there comes a time when it’s time to turn in the lessons, and receive a final grade.

No one likes to lose because losing means to slip and to slide, to fail and to flounder, to miss the mission and jettison the job. When you lose you obliterate the operation, but when you win you inaugurate the celebration. Winning cures everything. Winning cures what ails us. But in order to win we must consistently do and persistently say and voice the vision of victory.  Like my Maryland Terps did last night.

My Maryland Terrapins Men’s Basketball Team upset No. 5 Wisconsin last night, 59 -53 . It was a fantastic finish to a wonderful win. Dez Wells, Maryland’s senior star, consistently and persistently poked and prodded his teammates to victory.  He mandated that they could win; he pleaded that they should win; and in the end, he ensured that they would win. And win they did. And they had fun doing it, and the fans had fun celebrating it, as they rushed the court to celebrate after the final buzzer sounded.

Everyone wants to win. And Dez Wells does too. He scored 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had four assists; not too shabby. Wells was the spark and the sparkle of the team. AND, I’m convinced that my Terps can play like that all of the time. Instead of being hot and cold and off and on, sometimes up and sometimes down, these Terps could be the best of the best most of the time.  The sky is the limit.

Winning like the Terps did last night makes one ponder and pose and consider and conceive – and even expect — how life would be if we played well all of the time. Just suppose; just imagine; just think of how good we could be if we hit on all cylinders at least MOST of the time? But alas, this season my Terps didn’t; and unfortunately they haven’t – played their best every game — but they could’ve.  And the same goes for all of the rest of us too.

Everyone wants to win and no one likes to lose. Because winning is serious. It’s means something and it matters everything. Why? Because winning is communicable and contagious; winning is transferable and transmittable; but so is losing. And the line and the limit between losing and winning are so thin you can barely see it with a magnifying glass.

Since everyone wants to win, and everyone is serious about winning, we strive for precision and perfection; we strive for faultless and flawless; we strive for the fantastic and the fanciful. We strive for Oscar-winning performances on and off the court. And with help from the Heavens, we hope to have happy, healthy, joyful and jovial endings to all, or at least most, of our games. It’s that serious.

And here’s an excerpt from Washington Post Sports Columnist Jason Ried’s article on the win:

“Recent signs indicate the Terrapins possess what it takes to have some fun in the NCAA tournament, and the biggest one occurred Tuesday night during a stirring 59-53 victory over formidable Wisconsin.”

“Dez Wells wouldn’t let us lose,” Coach Mark Turgeon said. “Melo was Melo.”

“Picked 10th in the conference preseason poll, Maryland steadily has gained supporters. It’s easy to like an up-and-comer that seemed to come from nowhere. Guess who was ahead of the pack.”

“The victory was the Terrapins’ best of the season by far . . . “

And that’s serious, and that’s fun.

Oscar Winning Performances, On and Off The Field (And Screen)

sports-movies1

Our lives and our years are scripted by God.  Unfortunately, we tend to go “off message” and unscripted and then must return and repent and rely again on the Almighty to direct us. The Director of our souls can make us up and write for us a new and novel original score that we can sing for Him. 

God is the best Director. But we need to memorize our lines. And our lines are His Words, because He wrote the best original screenplay ever.  It’s been called the Greatest Story Ever Told.  And so all of us could earn an Oscar for the roles we’ve played and mistakes we’ve made and the prayers we’ve prayed that were answered in dramatic fashion.

So, as the Oscars approach, let’s focus on what matters, and that is winning “An Oscar” for Him.

The following is re-posted from Bryan Altman,  http://denver.cbslocal.com/2015/02/18/four-oscar-worthy-performances-in-the-world-of-sports/

“Best Original Screenplay/ Best Picture”

Much like the movies, certain games or seasons seem to follow the same old narrative and make us feel like we’re watching a rerun. Sometimes however, we’re shocked by a particular story line or plot point that arises during the year and it reminds us that life and sports can surprise us and prove to be stranger than fiction.

Here are the nominees…

Donald Sterling’s Conversation

Michael Sam’s NFL Journey

Super Bowl XLIX

Brazil vs. Germany World Cup Semi-Final

And the Oscar goes to… Super Bowl XLIX

The finale to the Super Bowl was one of those moments that you just cannot script. The dramatic drive to greatness by Tom Brady, the obscure corner back making the game-ending play, the mind-boggling decision, the last-minute fisticuffs – it was all just unbelievable. Seriously, the finale was so implausible that if someone pitched it to you as a movie, you would have ordered a psych evaluation and asked them to leave immediately.

full-hoosiers-poster

And by the way, the best sports movie of all time was, of course, Hoosiers.

Regarding Redheaded Rodman: a.k.a., Don’t Let Your Enemy Get In Your Head

Dennis Rodman

Every athlete has two internal enemies: arrogance and ignorance.  Arrogance is an offensive display of superiority or self-importance.  Arrogance is overbearing pride and must be guarded against at all cost. Arrogance is an enemy that can keep us thinking and feeling that we are better than we really are. Arrogance is a malicious, malignant menace, intent on misdirecting our minds away from a moderate and temperate measure of ourselves.

On the other hand, every athlete must also guard against ignorance. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge, information, or education. Ignorance is not knowing how good your are or failing to acknowledge how bad your are. Both are evils to be avoided.

Dennis Rodman was  a rare bird indeed. But Rodman was neither ignorant nor arrogant.  He was smart and savvy and unusual and uncanny all at the same time. Rodman’s untoward ability was an uncommon agility:  some consider him the best rebounder ever.  He managed to lead the NBA in rebounding (15.0 rpg) in 1997-98 for a record seventh consecutive season.  How did he do it?

dennis-rodman

For starters, Rodman had an unabashed command of the psyche of other players. In other words, Rodman managed to get into the heads of his opponents. He managed to mess up their minds and muddy up their mentalities to the point that those that played against him were more concerned about him than they were with winning the game. For Rodman, this was mission accomplished.

Remember the red (and yellow and green and pink) hair? Remember the earrings and the tattoos and the taunting and the trash talking? Rodman used all of this and some to distract and disturb and befuddle and bewilder all those who were foolish enough to pay him any mind.   Rodman’s antics and tactics were especially designed to knock opponents off their game. And it worked.

 And so the moral of the story is this: don’t let the “Rodmans” of your life get to you. Don’t let the Rodmans in your life get at you. Don’t let them. Because you must GIVE them permission to get in your head. Don’t fall for their tricks or their traits; don’t get distracted by all their jazz or any of their jive; instead, focus your faith and turn your attention to the prize that lies ahead.

Since we know about the “wiles” of the devil, let’s not focus on them. Let’s focus on our Sovereign and our Savior, our Redeemer and our Redemptor, our Deliverer and our Defender, and let’s keep His promises and assurances in our head.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11, KJV

Hit or Miss?

Bowling

I went bowling today. Yes bowling. It was a team building exercise with our Division at work, and, for the most part, it was fun.  The outing was entertaining and exciting and enjoyable. Some team members could bowl very well and some had never bowled before at all. But that’s not the point. The point is that we did it TOGETHER! We did it as a team.  The wearying and wearisome part was the entire Division did not take part; and for me, that’s not a total team effort.  

Sometimes we hit and sometimes we miss. Sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry. Sometimes we smile and sometimes we sigh. It’s not an either/or; it’s a both/and. 

Sometimes we hit it out the park and sometimes we go down swinging. Sometimes we can’t miss and sometimes we can’t hit the side of a barn.  Sometimes we bowl strikes and sometimes we roll gutter balls. But such is life. We have to take the good with the bad and the hits with the misses and thank God that it all does in fact work together for good for those who love God. And I love God.

So let’s take the hits and the misses; let’s take the knockouts and the washouts; let’s take the strikes and the gutter balls, the ups and the downs, the wins and the loses and the success and the failures and somehow trust God to make them all work together for our good.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28, KJV