When Bad Teams Play

Redskins.Dallas

The 5-6 Dallas Cowboys are hosting the 5-6 Washington Redskins in prime time. So why bother? 

The fans on each side are saying that this is a “must win” game for each team. Oh brother. Again I ask, “Why bother watching?”  It’s been called the best rivalry in sports. Normally, at least Yankees/Red Sox fans and Michigan/Ohio State fans would beg to differ, but the entire sports world is begging to differ tonight. Tonight when they play on Thursday Night Football, each team will be a shell of their old selves. Dak Prescott is not the Dak Prescott of last year; not by far. And Kirk Cousins and the Redskins, well, let’s just say that they always think they’re in contention.  Poor things.

You know what happens when bad teams play? You get poor play because of poor performers which leads to a poor performance. Essentially, it’s garbage in and garbage out. And who wants to waste precious time watching two lame ducks duke it out to the death?

Dallas has its share of problems: “Now in the middle of what will ultimately be a six-game suspension on their star RB, Ezekiel Elliot, the Cowboys’ offense is in shambles. After averaging a stout 28.25 points per game over the first eight contests, they’ve now failed to score 10 points in three consecutive games — the worse stretch in franchise history. That precipitous nose dive also includes a ‘frustrated’ Prescott admittedly playing some of his worst football, delivering only 500 total passing yards and no touchdowns, but five interceptions. He had only four all of last season.

It’s a long fall from the MVP-caliber numbers Dak Prescott was delivering only one month ago, and the correlation to the absence of Elliott can no longer be denied even if it’s not the sole reason for the downturn. Play calling certainly hasn’t helped his cause, as the Cowboys have also been attempting to overcompensate for the loss of Elliott versus riding impressive outings from Alfred Morris.” https://247sports.com/nfl/dallas-cowboys/Bolt/Dallas-Cowboys-coaches-weigh-in-on-if-absence-of-Ezekiel-Elliott-is-reason-for-poor-Dak-Prescott-play-111288651

And the Redskins have had their share of woes this season too.  So what’s one to do?  Can either team pull out a winning season and make the playoffs?  It’s doubtful, but then again that’s where it all starts. Doubt is the devil that destroys destiny. So since one team has to win (barring a tie, which would be laughable), one team has an outside chance at righting the ship and saving the season.

And therein lies the lesson: there’s always hope. You have to believe that there’s always a chance, a likelihood, a probability and a possibility that things can and will turn around. But first you have to believe that there’s hope, and that there’s hope for you, and that hope will help you too.  

Don’t Jinx It!

Carson Wentz

“A jinx is a little like a magical spell, specifically to make something go wrong. It’s often used to refer to something good that is hoped will happen, but that might not happen if you talk about it in advance. A common phrase is, ‘Don’t jinx it by talking about it.’” https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/dont-jinx-it.314008/

But do Christians believe in jinx’s? I hope not! People of faith don’t believe in magic or spells or tricks or illusions. Our faith is not founded upon fortune; we believe in Providence and purpose and can’t possibly believe in lot or luck, right? We believe in destiny not chance; we believe in a big God that has forethought and foresight, and not an unplanned and unintentional big bang.

The world says that fate is when something is meant to be. But does that work in sports?  This season, the Kansas City Chiefs were once 4-0 and then 6-2, and at one point. And everybody, and I do mean everybody, was ready to crown them champs! But they’ve lost 3 in a row. They started hot but have cooled off and amazingly enough they’re still holding on to first place in the AFC West. But the Chiefs are the only team that has defeated my Eagles, and now Philly is 10-1. TEN and one!

So those who are not so sure that the Eagles are Super Bowl bound collectively say, “Don’t jinx it.” Don’t talk about the Eagles going to the Super Bowl until we actually get closer to the Super Bowl.  But I beg to differ. A jinx is not biblical. So I can’t buy into that mentality.  But I can say that we need not get to giddy or too gabby about how good these Birds really are (and they are really good!).There’s still five games left in the regular season, and then there’s December football and then there’s the playoffs. 

Christians have argued about predestination and foreordination for centuries. It all boils down to this: fate is the world’s version of Providence. God is does hold the whole world in His hands, but we do have a part to play. It’s called faith and works.  So that’s why I believe that you can predict your future fate.

Fate is an event (or a course of events) that will inevitably happen in the future. Fate is the ultimate agency that predetermines the course of events (often personified as a woman).  And fate is your overall circumstances or condition in life (including everything that happens to you). So we don’t believe in fate, per se. We have faith in our efforts and energy and labor and lifework. So if I believe and achieve, I can expect to receive.  And so can the Eagles.

So don’t worry about jinxing it for the Eagles. Carson Wentz is the real deal, and he has enough faith for the whole team, if not the entire City of Brotherly Love.  Just don’t count your chickens before they hatch.  The Eagles still have to play the games, and we’ll be keeping score.

 

Go Eagles!

Good, Better, Best

Eagles INT

 

Good, better best,

Never let it rest,

Till your good is better,

And your better best.

           Author unknown

I love this little rhyme, because this short, small chime is actually sublime. It preaches a poignant point that cannot be overemphasized but is largely understated. Good is ok, but it’s not the best you can do. There is an enemy out there called average. 

The Philly faithful are NOT satisfied with beating the Dallas Cowboys – in Dallas, mind you — even as bad as we beat them. In fact, for the Cowboys, it was their worst home loss since AT&T Stadium opened in 2009. But that was NOT our Super Bowl.

The Eagles are now 9-1, and the last two times we were this good and this much better than most other teams in the NFL we went on to try our best to win the Super Bowl. Both times we failed.

But all of Philly hopes and prays that this time is different. This time, we seem to have something special going on and it’s a love fest of epic proportions. So, this time, we are not that excited about beating a deflated, depleted Dallas team. We’re not overly excited (but we are giddy!) about being 9-1, owning the best record in football. Good is good, but it’s not great. We want to go from good to great. We want to be better, and to play our best.

And that is what we all should strive to do. For the Eagles, this year, winning the Division would be good, but winning the NFC Championship Game would be better. And a Super Bowl win with a parade down Broad Street to boot would be best.

So don’t stop at good. Go for broke; get better, and then be the best. Never let it rest. Your good can be better, and your better can be best. Because God wants us to do our best and be our best; anything less is settling.

 

Note From Drew Brees: “You Can Still Pull It Out”

Drew Brees

Some wins make you feel like you can take a running start and with one leap, jump clear over the moon. Just Ask Drew Brees.  And some losses make you so sick you can hardly breathe. Such is life. There are great, glorious wins and then there are bad, terrible, horrible loses, especially when the win was sewn up and packed away but yet you let it get away, anyway. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

There cardinal sins and there are cardinal rules. And in sports they essentially collide and combine and become one and the same.  And here’s the most critical one: don’t blow the lead late in the game. Period. End of discussion. The game aint over til it’s all over. But this week, the Redskins didn’t get the memo. 

The New Orleans Saints just came back from 15 points down with 5:38 remaining and stunned the Washington Redskins 34 -31 in OT at the Super Dome. Drew Brees got hot and the Skins defense got burned for two touchdowns and a two point conversion in the waning moments of a thriller as the Saints won their 8th straight game in fantastic fashion.

So what story line is more important? The Satins coming back to win or the Redskins falling back to lose?  Of course the positive is the comeback win. The Saints held on with their fingernails all game and managed to creep and crawl and climb their way back into the game and eke out an exciting, electrifying victory.

But you can also learn a lot from a loss.  And since that’s the case, the Redskins should be awarded an earned a PhD in how not to blow a game.  Seriously though, many of the greats say that they learned more from loses and defeats than wins and victories .

And so, the moral of the story is this: momentum is everything. Everything. The Redskins had the momentum in this game but let her get away. So learn this lesson: momentum is like the girl at the seventh grade dance that you didn’t come with (because you went stag) but you long to leave with. When you get her, keep her. Guard her to the death, and defend her with your life. Because, when you lose momentum, you’ve essentially lost the game.

Predict Your Future

Embiid and Simmons

Here’s a sports prophesy that I hope comes true: The Philadelphia Seventy Sixers will win it all, in 3 years or so, give or take.  There. I said it.

Sports prognosticators predict wins and losses and victories and defeats. But this is not a prediction, per se. I have a prophecy,  that I hope comes true. It’s a  Type 1Prophecy, meaning it’s a prediction made based on human intuition and analysis of facts. It’s not from God, even though I hope heaven is in on this one.

There are true prophets and false prophets. And no true prophet wants to be confused with a false prophet.  And the problem with prophecy is that in order to be valid and legitimate it has to come true. So, based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m going to prophesy.  It’s a sports prophecy. So here goes: the Sixers will win the NBA Championship within 4 years.  (Did I say 3 before?) There I said it, and here’s why:

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons seem destined to be at dynamic duo set out to destroy defenses across the NBA for quite some time.  So why not shoot for the top?

In LA, Embiid scored 32 points against the Clippers and then, just two short nights later,  Embiid put up monster, if not historic numbers: he scored 46, that’s Forty Six points, had 15 rebounds and 7 assists and 7 blocks against the Lakers at Staples Center. Not too shabby for a second year big man that can hit threes with ease.   And Simmons was one rebound short of ANOTHER triple double.  And thus Simmons and Embiid have saved the Sixers.

Simmons is a Saviour; or, as some would say, he’s a savior of sorts. He was the No. 1 Pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and he’s going to a team and a city that is in desperate need of saving. And so far, Simmons is averaging 17.8, points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. Not bad for a rookie.  And the 76ers other all-star candidate, Joel Embiid, is averaging 23 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.

The Greek work for Saviour is Soter, meaning deliverer. To deliver from danger and death is the purpose of intent and the supreme significance of Biblical salvation. To deliver means to rescue and to defend, both morally and physically, as opposed to being lost and destroyed. And to deliver and save is the herculean task of a Saviour. To save is to revive and retrieve and resurrect to life and health and wholeness.

For Philly, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are just what “The Dr.” ordered., becaseu the City of Brotherly Love is in dreadful need of some real relief and release.  And you may be too. So predict your future. And call out for salvation, because you need to participate in your own resurrection.

The last time the Sizers had the No. 1 pick was 20 years ago. Simmons was the No. 1 pick in 2016 and Markelle Fulz, who has barely played, was the No. 1 pick this year. A generation ago, as it is hoped now, the No. 1 pick became a Saviour of sorts, and went on to become Philly’s favorite son: Allen Iverson. “AI” didn’t win an NBA championship, but he was named the NBA Rookie of the Year for the 1996–97 season. Iverson was also the NBA MVP for the 2000-2001 season, and just this year he was voted into the NBA Hall of Fame.

So While I hope Embiid and Simmons deliver, I don’t have to hope about Heaven. There is a heaven and there is a hell, just like the Bible says.  Isreal became a nation, just like the prophets predicted, and we are living in perilous times, just as the Apostle Paul, a New Testament prophet fortold.

 As for my predictive prophecy about the Sixers wining it att, the city and the fans feel and sense that their redemption draweth nigh. With Ebiid’s 46 point performance against LA the other night, the wait for a good team is over. Now we just have to wait Embiid and Simmons to become a great team, and deliver a championship.  Just like Moses arriving in Egypt to deliver the children of Israel from the clutches of Pharaoh, Jesus came and delivered all who believe in Him from the power of sin and shame.

As a Philly fan, I long for another glorious season of winning and ruling and dominating in ANY sport, so why not start with roundball? (or football  for that matter– GO EAGLES! Fly Eagles fly, on to victory . . .  I just had to get that in.)

Anyway, to the Philly faithful, sports salvation is here. And for everyone else, if you want to be saved, salvation is yours for the asking.

“Just Run As Hard As You Can . . .” NYC Marathon Champion Shalene Flanagan

flanagan-shalane-jpg-e1510248261501.jpg

Shalane Flanagan has the recipe for winning and the remedy for losing and the prescription for victory for us all: “Just run as hard as you can, within control, to the finish, but save one more gear just in case someone is there.”

I love it.

“New York City Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan hasn’t slept much since Sunday, when she became the first American woman to win the race in 40 years, but she’s still exhilarated. ‘I updated my Instagram profile and wrote ‘New York City Marathon champion.’ “

Here’s what the Marathon Champion said to ESPN:

“I said, ‘OK, I’m just gonna put my head down and work hard, and they may just fall in line behind me, but I feel like I can just push hard to the finish. Just imagine you’re back in Portland on your own training grounds, and visualize your support team.’ Before I knew it, I got a sense, a feeling that there was no one right behind me, but I never turned around, because I didn’t think it was worth the effort to make a turn. ‘Just run as hard as you can, within control, to the finish, but save one more gear just in case someone is there.’ I could tell there was no cheering for any other athlete. I kind of was like, ‘Pretend that they’re close,’ but I could sense there was a gap developing.

I just was so focused on myself and not letting the moment overwhelm me. When you realize you’re achieving something that you have thought of forever, you can get very emotional — imagine trying to cry and run at the same time, it’s really hard. I didn’t want to tense up, so I was just trying to stay super-focused on my form and being strong. Not until did I see the literal finish line tape did I allow myself to soak it up for the 20 seconds that I had. I didn’t want it to slip through my fingers, I didn’t want to be overly confident. I ran scared those last three miles.” http://www.espn.com/sports/endurance/story/_/id/21338985/not-crazy-thought-do-says-2017-nyc-marathon-champ-shalane-flanagan

Congratulations, Shalane.

Many times we turn from side to side, wondering whether we have competition or opposition. We spend time and effort turning to the left and to the right or turning around “to see who is there.” But again Shalane saves us. She said “I got a sense, a feeling that there was no one right behind me, but I never turned around, because I didn’t think it was worth the effort to make a turn.”  There it is. It’s not worth the effort to make a turn.

So stay focused, eyes fixed forward on the prize; because it’s not worth the effort to make a turn when the goal is ahead of you, not behind you.

A Good Kid Does A Bad Thing

LaVar-Ball_HS-Sons-

UCLA freshman LiAngelo Ball comes from a high profile family. His father, Lonzo Ball, is frank and forthright, can be outspoken and has been underestimated; he may have a big mouth but he’s also got an oversized vision of his sons’ basketball future. And you can’t blame him for that.

But this is not about dear ole dad. This is about his middle son, who by all accounts is a good kid who did a bad thing. It’s upsetting and it’s disappointing.  But we’ve all done upsetting and disappointing things at one time or another. And most of us are thankful that our missteps and mistakes didn’t make front page news. The hope here is that LiAngelo can come back and turn this thing around for good.

Here’s the skinny on what happened to LiAngelo Ball and two of his teammates in China:

“UCLA faces the embarrassing prospect of opening its season without three freshman players who have been benched after being released on bail following an alleged shoplifting incident in China. LiAngelo Ball and his Bruins teammates are in Hangzhou, China to play Georgia Tech in the team’s season-opener this Friday–except Ball, along with fellow freshmen Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, will probably miss the game.

As time as gone by, it now appears that LiAngelo Ball and these two teammates will not play when the Bruins open the season against Georgia Tech at 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time Friday in Shanghai, Coach Steve Alford announced Wednesday. ESPN, which will carry the game, first reported the news. In fact, they might miss other Bruins games (plural) when the team returns home to the States. And it won’t be because these players suffered injuries or illness. It will be because they are still in China–and possibly in a Chinese jail.

The three players were arrested on Tuesday for shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store. The arrests, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, followed interviews by about 20 local police officers with UCLA players while the players stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hangzhou. The Louis Vuitton store is located next to the hotel and, particularly given the high value of much of the store’s inventory, most likely contains security cameras throughout and around the store.”

And the moral of the story is?  Good guys from good families who are good players can have a bad day and do a bad thing and end up in a bad way. It’s sad but true. The hope is that LiAngelo learns from this quickly and is allowed to return to the States and his team and chalk this up as an example of what not to do. It’s called a second chance. In biblical parlance it’s called redemption and restoration, something we all have needed and still need, every day.

So let’s hope for a positive outcome and not throw stones. It’s easy to judge and be a critic when things go south. But it’s better to withhold the verdict and delay sentencing because we all live in glass houses. Just think, what would have happened if you got the punishment you deserved when you got caught for that silly, stupid thing you did back when?