“Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus”

EaglesChristmas

This is a 1991 Christmas film that you’ll have to tell me about, because I’ve never seen it. According to IMDb, the plot summary goes like this: “While newspaper writer Church struggles with the death of his wife, he receives a ‘special’ assignment. He must answer a little girl’s question about whether Santa Claus really exists. It’s based on a true story.”

And the Eagle’s win against the Oakland Raiders on a frosty, Christmas Monday Night proved once again that miracles are possible, and they do in fact happen.  And if backup QB Nick Foles and all of Philly ever needed a miracle, tonight was the night. Foles looked horrible, and did everything possible to lose this game.

On a cold winter’s night in late December, the Eagles had a chance to sew up home field advantage in the playoffs. But they were flat and cold and they ran into a buzzsaw of a running back that’s torched them before.  Enter Marshawn Lynch and the Oakland Raiders with nothing to play for but to be a spoiler.

And spoiler they nearly were. Both teams played ugly and gritty, neither looking like they wanted to win. In fact, this was probably the worst the football team from Philly has played all year, and yet somehow, someway they pulled off an undeserved win.

Ever been on the plus side of an undesirved win? It’s better than beeing on the wrong side of the tracks. And it makes you awfully grateful.

All jokes aside, isn’t what God did for us on the first Christmas equally undeserving? The first Noel was to lowly shepherds, signaling the coming of grace to the least of all.

It just goes to show ya; you can be down but you don’t have to be out. You can look bad and still come out clean. You can lose battles and still win the war. And you can make mistakes and deserve defeat and still, with the help of the God of Heaven, gain the victory.

Santa Claus is the holly, jolly, giving, loving and caring saint who indeed lives in the hearts of every child and every child at heart. And so I’m offering this simple phrase, to kids from one to ninety-two; miracles can and do happen.

You’ve just gotta believe

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A Christmas Miracle

Embiid Phila Magazine

On this one of the most spiritually significant days of the year, the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers just gave sports and non-sports fans alike a reason to believe in miracles. Again. My Sixers just beat the New York Knicks 105 – 98 at MSG (that’s Madison Square Garden) in what was a Christmas Day Miracle for Philly fans everywhere. 

New York, this Christmas,  Joel Embiid has come to town. 

This was the first time Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons played on Christmas and they played before an amped and anxious, national TV audience full of fans who want to believe. We want to believe that Philly sports are back on track to stay, and that the Sixers will only get better as time goes on. But this win wasn’t pretty or easy.

The miracle was that as good as the Sixers can be, they can be just as bad as well.  They can be lights out pretty, scary good or turn the lights out ugly, horror movie bad the next week or the next game or the next possession.  Sheesh. 

The professional basketball team from Philly needs to learn how to finish and complete and accomplish a total team win. There are some things that we can control. So control them. You can’t avoid making mistakes, but you can minimize your faults and your flubs. Falling apart in the fourth quarter is always a bad thing, and protecting the lead is always good thing, especially when the game is on the line.  Hear that Sixers?

It sports and in life, we all need to think things through and think things over and try to stay cool and calm and calculated, even and especially when we’re under pressure.  When you get rattled and you don’t reason, you tend to throw the ball away or rush the shot or commit a silly foul when a prudent, practical and pragmatic play would be warranted.  Discretion is always the better part of valor. Because it’s always better to make the safe play than trying to be the hero and trying to be Superman.

That’s why we thank God for grace. When we can’t or don’t play or live as best as we should, grace steps in and delivers a gift wrapped miracle just for us.

Hope For The Best, Plan For The Worst

DC Sports

That’s EXACTLY what every Washington, D.C. sports team and sports fan should be doing this Christmas. And here’s why: the skinny is that Kirk Cousins can’t fish so he’s cutting bait; John Wall is wondering about wandering elsewhere, and Bryce Harper is soon to be a has-been in DC. There. That’s it.  So for DC fans, this Christmas may be the one to ask Santa for a new roster for the Redskins, Wizards and Nationals.

First, Cousins. He’s the one most likely to leave.  The Redskins can’t seem to get it together even with his stellar stats. They’ve been talking about what to do with him his entire time in this town, and nothing seems to be working when it comes to winning.

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BOSTON, MA – MAY 10: John Wall of the Washington Wizards looks on during the second half of Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on May 10, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the Wizards 123-101. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

John Wall just looks so sad and unhappy. His team is a middle of the pack, just make the playoffs, wannabe championship team anyway, to why stay? Will the Wizzards win with Wall? Absolutely NOT! They need more help and more hope and more heart than they have or can afford. So, Wall may not stay – on the wall – with the Wizards in DC.

And then there’s Harper. He’s the poster child for the Washington Nationals. His name is Bryce and his game is nice but his team just doesn’t seem to have what it takes to get over the hump.

And dare I mention Alex Ovechkin?  The rockin’ red Capitals captain is culpable too, and the Caps can get some of this love as well. Their golden boy may bolt or buck for the back door, and if he doesn’t I’ll shocked.

If all of these stars fall from their studs, where will that leave sports in DC? Dreams of sugarplumbs and superstars with Super Bowl rings will dance right out of everyones head. Or maybe not.  All of these stars could succeed somewhere else. If they do, more power to ’em.

The best that can happen after the inevitable worst is that all of DC’s teams retool and recharge and restock their rosters.  “Next Man Up” should be the mantra for the Reskins, Wizards, Nationals and Capitals. 

So, hope for the best, but you better plan for the worst.  Stop trying to win with what will not work. In 2018, try something new. Hence, out with the old. Throw out that old rag or shoe or comfortable thing that’s not getting you anywhere fast. And forget about the game plan that’s got you nowhere.

So here’s a note for Washington DC teams and for all the rest of us who are struggling to get going: for 2018, it’s time to go with Plan “B,” especially if Plan “A” isn’t getting the job done.

From Worst to First, Playing In The Snow

Here’s a reblog from Nick Foles’ inagural season in Philly. Dreams of Sports Illustrated are dancing in my head!

God and Sports

 Eagles in the Snow

My Eagles went from Worst to First, playing in the snow.  Last season they finished dead last in the NFC East. Now, they are on the verge of winning the Division and playing deep into the playoffs.

Snow is a symbol for purity and innocence; the antithesis of pollution and contamination. Losing is symbolic of what is wrong, what is wretched, and what is wicked. No one likes a loser and everyone loves a winner. When the Eagles were in last place they were hated; now that they are in first place they are loved.

Kids from 1 to 92 love playing in the snow.  And today the Philadelphia Eagles got paid make snow angels and score touchdowns in the snow.  My Eagles went from worst to first. And they did it dramatic fashion. In Philadelphia, snow started falling about two hours before kickoff and just got harder and…

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All I Want For Christmas

Philly Sports 2 

Here’s a little lullaby from every Philly fan everywhere to the Eagles and the Sixers, and to the Flyers and Phillies, if they’re listening. All we want for Christmas is for you to win the last game of the season – the playoff season. That means winning a championship in football and basketball, please.

The Eagles are almost there. No Wentz? No Problem!  Nick Foles and the Eagle Offense kept right on humming along. And the Sixers? Well, while we thought they were well on their way, they may in fact be a season or two from making that Christmas wish come true.

So Philly fans, let’s hope that Nick Foles has it him for one, and that our winning wonder Carson Wentz will be back next fall for a few more. As for the Sixers; well, Ebmiid and Simmons, at lease WIN on Christmas Day! Please?!

Santa, are you listening?

I just want you (the Eagles) for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is (for) you … TO WIN!

“Survive the Ground”

Survive The Ground Rule

In this life, you have to survive the ground. In order to survive the ground, you first have to learn how to survive the ground. Learning isn’t always quick and easy or fun and pleasant. Learning comes with bumps and bruises and scratches and scrapes. Just ask the Pittsburg Steelers. And that’s why Jessie James, Ben Roethlisberger, and Coach Mike Tomlin, who looks just like Mike Epps, are licking their wounds and bidding their time until they meet the New England Patriots again, perhaps in the 2018 AFC Championship game?

In Sunday’s clash with the vaunted Patriots, Pittsburgh Steeler’s tight end Jesse James absolutely, positively seemed like he caught the ball seconds before the end of regulation at the goal line. In fact, Jesse James did not catch the game-winning touchdown against the New England Patriots. “The catch rule, as we all know and hate it, declares clearly that a player going to the ground while making a catch must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of going to the ground.

When you watch the play, you see James diving for the ball. As he lunged across the goal line, the ball fell to the ground. Before James could gain possession, Patriots defensive back Duron Harmon dove on his back to render him down and the play over.

Very clearly and simply, James did not maintain control of the ball throughout the process. In other words, the catch did not survive the ground. Here’s how it appears in the NFL rulebook:

“A player who goes to the ground in the process of attempting to secure possession of a loose ball (with or without contact by an opponent) must maintain control of the ball until after his initial contact with the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, there is no possession.” http://www.espn.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/262186/the-nfl-catch-rule-has-issues-but-steelers-survive-the-ground-call-was-right

And that’s what we’ve all got to learn. We’ve got to learn how to survive the ground. Sometimes we get knocked down and pushed down and even thrown down, but we’ve got to survive the ground. We can’t let a fall or a push or a shove hamper our hopes or dislodge our dreams. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but we can’t let names or slurs or insults or false accusations hurt us to the point that we lose a firm hold on what Heaven has promised us. Maintain possession.  Lay hold to your hopes and don’t let go of your dreams.

So survive the ground. Get back up and get back going. Don’t let a little slip or a trifle trip endanger your destiny.

Win then Lose then Win Again

Gronkowski

 “Life is queer with its twists and turns, as every one of us sometimes learns.” 

Sometimes you have to win twice just to win once. Sometimes you think you have it all together and it’s all wrapped up only to realize there’s a hole in the bag; but then you catch the cavity and plug the gap just in time to save the day.

Sometimes, when it seems like you don’t have a payer, a prayer is all you need.

Sometimes you win and then you seem to lose it; and then, lo and behold, you win after all. And that’s just what happened to the World Champion New England Patriots. Everybody knows that Rob Gronkowski is Tom Brady’s “go to” guy.  Brady has been throwing to No. 87, Rob Gronkowski, just for something to do, and the pair has been winning with regularity since he came into the league in 2010.  And the couple did it again today against Pittsburg.

With 1 minute left on the clock, the Pats prized tight end caught an almost uncatchable ball inches off of the ground to pave the way for another incredible, improbable but you knew it was coming, come from behind Division clinching win IN Pittsburg at Heinz field.

Then, Big Ben got the Steelers to the ten yard line in the blink of an eye. Then Roethlisberger threw a pass over the middle to Jessie James and the home team seemingly scored. The Steelers had come back with less than a minute left to beat Brady at his own game. But not so fast.

Sometimes, like it or not, the game is won and lost by a decision the referees make. In this case, the zebras reviewed the play and ruled the pass incomplete because the receiver did not maintain possession as he went to the ground AFTER he crossed the goal line.  Unbelievable. The game ended when Big Ben threw an ill-advised pass across the middle that was intercepted in the endzone. Absolutely unbelievable.

New England won, then seemingly lost, and then won again. Again. The same thing  happened in two — count ‘em, TWO — Super Bowls; last year against the Falcons and three years ago against the Seahawks. The five time World Champions have a knack for winning games twice. You would think you should only have to win once. But such is life.  

And so the moral of the story is this: sometimes you have to win twice just to win once. Even though it looks like it’s over, it’s not over. Keep fighting until victory is won.