Army Beats Navy! a.k.a, End The Losing Streak

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Army ended a 14-year run of frustration against Navy, using an overpowering running game and opportunistic defense to carve out a long overdue 21-17 victory. The Black Knights’ 14-game losing streak was the longest by either academy in a series that began in 1890. Army (7-5) now trails 60-50-7 in one of the nation’s historic rivalries.

Navy (9-4) was coming off a physical 34-10 loss to Temple in the American Athletic Conference title game and had only one week to prepare for Army with a new quarterback, sophomore Zach Abey, who was making his first college start. Abey took over for Will Worth, who broke his foot against Temple.

Unfortunately for Navy, their replacement quarterback was thrown into the fray and struggled to execute. He ran for two touchdowns, but also passed for only 89 yards and was intercepted twice. Navy had four turnovers, three in the first half. By halftime, Army led 14-0 and owned a 14-1 advantage in first downs.

But to Army’s credit, they exploited their opponent’s weakness. And we need to find a way to do the same. The Bible says that we are “not ignorant of the Devil’s devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11, KJV). That means that “we are familiar with his evil schemes” (NLT). Since we know how he operates, we can know how to avoid falling into his traps.

This year, Army finally ended their losing streak against their arch rival Navy. And at the end of this year, there are some bad habits and backward thinking and boorish behavior that we need to put an end to as well. In other words, there are some losing streaks that you and I need to end, too.

Cool Runnings Says, “Finish!”

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Cool Runnings is the true rags to sports riches story about the humble hubris of the human spirit.  When a Jamaican sprinter is disqualified from the Olympic Games, he enlists the help of a dishonored coach to start the first Jamaican Bobsled Team.  And the irony is that they finished, but not first or even in the middle of the pack. The team’s borrowed bobsled broke going down the track and they had to carry it on their shoulders across the finish line. But they finished nonetheless. 

According to Roger Ebert, “it’s not a bad movie. In fact, it’s surprisingly entertaining, with a nice sweetness in place of the manic determination of the average sports picture. The actors playing the bobsledders have a nice comic charm, especially Doug E. Doug as a high-energy guy named Sanka Coffie. And John Candy has a couple of stirring speeches that he somehow delivers as if every word were not recycled from other films. If you like underdog movies, you might like this one.”

And here’s some more inspiration from some sports and entertainment greats:

Sports do not build character. They reveal it.
John Wooden

The mark of great sportsmen is not how good they are at their best, but how good they are their worst.
Martina Navratilova

Sports is the toy department of human life.
Howard Cosell

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.
Michael Jordan

Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.
Lou Holtz

Most football teams are temperamental. That’s 90% temper and 10% mental.
Doug Plank

A winner never whines.
Paul Brown

I wouldn’t ever set out to hurt anyone deliberately unless it was, you know, important -like a league game or something.
Dick Butkus

The reason women don’t play football is because eleven of them would never wear the same outfit in public.
Phyllis Diller

Penn State Redemption

penn-state-tops-wisconsin-to-win-big-ten-championship_5_1Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin hugs his wife after his team defeated the Wisconsin Badgers 38-31 in the 2016 Big Ten Football Championship Game in Indianapolis on December 3, 2016. Photo by John Sommers II/UPI

Penn State’s 38-31 victory over No. 6 Wisconsin in Saturday night’s 2016 Big Ten championship game was bigger than you think. With a convincing win, Penn State won its first conference championship in eight seasons. It was, in part, a vindication for Coach James Franklin and the Penn State Football program.

When the Wisconsin Badgers raced out to a 28-7 lead over the Nittany Lions in the first half, the impact of this year’s successful season was in doubt and it seemed like Penn State Football had only come halfway home. Yet their remarkable comeback in the second half against Wisconsin — the largest in Big Ten title game history – coupled with their victory over Ohio State earlier in the season, was proof positive of the return of Penn State Football. The turnaround removed all doubts about how far Penn State has come since their fall from grace in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

In 2012, Penn State Board of Trustees hired former FBI director Louis Freeh and his firm, including a team of former federal prosecutors and FBI agents, to conduct an independent investigation into the scandal. In the opinion of many, the mission Freeh was given seemed to presuppose that Sandusky’s crimes were not his alone and that people who had reason to suspect him had looked away.

Joseph Vincent Paterno, a.k.a. “Joe Pa,” was fired the second to last game of the 2011 season in the middle of the scandal. After being accused in the Freeh Report of withholding information about Jerry Sandusky’s inappropriate behavior in the locker room, in essence, Paterno was found “guilty” in the court of public opinion. A year after the report’s issuance, the chairman of the Penn State Board of Trustees, which had originally commissioned the report, said that Freeh’s conclusions amounted to “speculation.”

On September 4, 2013, in an interview conducted by Showtime’s 60 Minutes Sports, the former Chief Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Frank Fina, who investigated and prosecuted Jerry Sandusky, stated that he found no evidence that Joe Paterno participated in a cover-up. Fina then qualified that statement, stating that he saw no need to judge Paterno beyond his own words and that Paterno himself said it best. “He said: ‘I didn’t do enough… I should have done more.'”

Because of the findings of the Freeh Report, The NCAA vacated 112 of Penn State’s wins dating back to 1998. This included the removal of Paterno’s last 111 wins at Penn State, dropping him from first to 12th on the all-time wins list. And, while it may never be medically proven, the scandal certainly sucked the life right out of Joe. In November of 2011 it was reported that Paterno had a treatable form of lung cancer.

It is clear to me that the scandal only helped to worsen Joe’s condition, and on January 13, 2012, Paterno was hospitalized for complications relating to his cancer treatment. He remained there until he died nine days later on January 22, 2012.

But redemption is sweet. In 2015, the NCAA reinstated Joe Pa’s wins. And the vigor and vitality of the Penn State football team has been restored as evidenced by the 2016 Big 10 Championship win which was transforming and is heartwarming indeed.

As my momma used to say, “God don’t like ugly.” God will one day right every wrong and make every rough place plain. God will upset the apple cart of your enemies and make every crooked lie straight and every false accusation frivolous.

And that is what has just happened for Penn State.

Can Dallas Do It? They Think They Can!

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If Dallas can beat the Vikings tonight (and then most importantly, the Giants), then they should continue winning right on into the playoffs. Some say that the Dallas “D” is weak and that they can’t stop the long ball, and that they went 10-1  before with Romo but lost to the Giants in the 1st Round of the playoffs,  . . .  blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But they’re still 10-1  and are the odds on favorite to go all the way.

We’ll see.

“The Dallas Cowboys are accomplishing things in Dak Prescott’s rookie season that never happened under Hall of Fame quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman.  Dallas, which got its five Super Bowl championships under Staubach and Aikman, had never won 10 consecutive regular-season games in the same season until now.

Only once before in franchise history had the Cowboys started 10-1, in Tony Romo’s first full season as the starter in 2007. That was also the only other time since 1995, their last Super Bowl season, that they already had 10 wins on Thanksgiving Day.

‘I have tons of confidence in myself, this team, and the coaching staff,’ Prescott said. ‘I never go in to the game thinking we are going to lose, it is always what do we have to do to win? I feel like that is how this team thinks.’ ” By Stephen Hawkins – AP Sports Writer

And so the question is this: can YOU “do it;” whatever your “it” is? Publish a book? Start and grow a successful business? Be a blessing to everyone you meet? Can you do it? First, you must think you can, and then you must believe you can, and then you must be determined that you can. Then you’ll have a fighting chance.

The Poetry of Sports

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Football

Football is a sport,
for those who are tough.
It’s not easy,
but rather quite rough.

It offers,
It’s share of bruises and pain,
When you get hit,
it can feel like a train.

Protecting each other,
with the art of the block.
In the huddle,
keep your eyes on the clock.

Coaches yell out,
intricate plays,
To gain hard earned yards,
there’s so many ways.

It’s all about the endzone,
how far and how near,
The closer you get,
your opponents gain fear.

Football revolves,
around the whole team,
A win is the sole purpose,
and ultimate dream.

by anitapoems.com

 

And such is life. 

Don’t Give The Game Away

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Did You See The Game? I did.

I watched the Michigan / Ohio State game yesterday. If you missed it, you missed a treat. It was a great win and a horrible loss both at the same time. Yes, it was a great win for Ohio State to come from behind and beat their archrivals 30 -27 in DOUBLE OT, at home, again. And it was a horrible, almost unspeakable loss.

One sportswriter put it this way:

“There is simply too much pain to process. Losing to Ohio State? Losing in double overtime? Losing with some controversy? Losing the Big Ten East Division? Losing a shot at the Playoff? It’s almost overwhelming. Michigan will bounce back under Jim Harbaugh — and very likely be right there for the 2017 national title — but this loss will sting all offseason. Then again, maybe there’s room for Michigan to make a national semifinal in 2016?”

Michigan had the game in the bag. I mean the game was won and the Michigan Quarterback Wilton Speight and the referees game it away. Yes it was a great game because it had everything: it had defense and turnovers and missed field goals and a pick-six and fourth and inches and a first down controversy in double overtime.

If you didn’t catch yesterday’s game, you missed one of the best regular season college games in college football history Michigan, the better team, had Ohio State on the ropes for most of the game, then choose to gift the game back to the Buckeyes down the stretch. Ohio State wouldn’t have even been in the game had it not been for the interceptions that the Michigan QB gave them. Wow.

Coach Jim Harbaugh has every right to be mad, but the first person he needs to be mad with is himself. He lost his cool and it cost his team five critical yards late in the game when the defense needed to keep the Buckeyes out of the end zone. They did not.

We lead by example. A long time ago someone said, monkey see, monkey do. And the team saw their coach lose his composure, and then they went on to lose the game in typical Michigan, meltdown fashion (the Wolverines have lost five straight to Ohio State at the Horseshoe).

“Outrageous,” Harbaugh said at one point, describing the officiating that he thought cost his Wolverines the game at Ohio State Saturday afternoon. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. It doesn’t matter. What matters is how you handle a brutal loss when you speak to the public. What matters is what you show them. Harbaugh didn’t show much grace.

His senior defensive lineman, however, Chris Wormley, did. “There’s a few calls that I thought could go either way,” he said. “You’ve got to play through those types of calls, handle adversity.” Yes, you do.

And so the lesson is almost lyrical: you may lose and you may fail and you may suffer loss, but don’t give it away. Don’t lose your cool or lose your head or lose your composure. Your opponent may try to grab it or seize it or snatch it or even steal it, but DO NOT give it away.  And that’s just what the Michigan coach and the Michigan team did yesterday.

 

Ohio State vs. Michigan: Impose Your Will

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It doesn’t get any bigger than this. The season and a shot at the championship are on the line.  For these two pigskin powerhouses and football juggernauts, it’s time for the big game against their arch rival. So just about everything that really counts is up for grabs. The annual clash between these rivals means even more this year as the winner is likely to end up in the College Football Playoffs.

It just doesn’t get any bigger than this. In order to win, one team must impose their will and their way upon their opponent.

It doesn’t get any better than Michigan vs. Ohio State @ the Horseshoe. Pre-game and pre first snap, we are asking ourselves and each other these eternal questions: who will prevail? Who will succeed and triumph? Who will impose their way and emerge victorious?  These immortal questions emerge at the initiation of every athletic encounter. And they also surface before every season and afore every game and as we face every down and as we prepare for every play of our lives.

It just doesn’t get any better than this. This pivotal, punctual, national pastime of a matchup will answer questions that beg for answers. And the correlation for you and I is this: will we impose our will over the will of our emotions and feelings and sensations? Can we overcome our dark passions and secret sensations and vile vexations in order to achieve our goals?

We must. And with the help of Heaven, we will. Failure is not an option. And yet if we fail to succeed (this time), we must get back up and get back going, again.