How Much Is Too Much?

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Odell Beckham, Jr. is all smiles, because Odell just got paid. The New York Football Giants just offered their star stud a deal that makes him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. Is he worth it? Some say yes. Does he deserve it? Some say no. But the deal is done, and now Odell is one fat cat.

And so the question is this: how much money is too much money? How many cars are too many to own? How big a house or how many houses does one need? How many yachts and private jets and penthouses and beach bungalows does one need to be satisfied? In essence, how much is too much? Most would agree that professional athletes are overpaid. And this just adds fuel to that fire.

On the one hand the Bible speaks of Abraham, and Abigail and Solomon and the Rich Woman from Shumen, all who loved God and were a blessing to their fellow-man, and all of them were very rich. And the New Testament tells of those who were very well off, including the Roman Centurion that built a synagogue for the Jewish People of Capernaum, and Barnabas, both of whom had means. And Jesus himself said that He came to give us abundant life, right here on earth.

On the other hand, rich, yet wise King Solomon said “Labor not to be rich.” (How ironic is that?) And Paul told Timothy that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” The Message Bible puts it this way: “Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after.” The Bible also speaks of the deceitfulness of riches which “choke the Word.” The New Living Translation says that the “lure of wealth” crowds out the message that God intends for us to receive.

And just what is that message? The message from Heaven is that the Kingdom of God is more important than the things of this world. Yes God wants us to enjoy everyday life, but enjoying everyday life is not the goal of life. If we seek God first, He promised to add things to our life. It doesn’t work the other way around. God comes before things, and money; things and money do not come before God.

Anyway, that was the color commentary — here’s the play-by-play:

“Odell Beckham Jr. has agreed to a five-year extension with the New York Giants that makes him the highest-paid wide receiver in football.

The three-time Pro Bowler can receive a maximum $95 million over the course of the deal ($90 million base value plus $5 million in incentives), with $65 million in total guaranteed money, a source told ESPN’s Josina Anderson, including $41 million fully guaranteed at signing.

Over the first three years of the deal, Beckham will be paid $60 million for an average of $20 million a year over that earlier term. This means the new money average of the extension is $18 million a year over the five years, but his total average over the entire deal is $16.4 million a year over six years, which includes his previous option year (for this season).”

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Don’t Press The Panic Button

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Here’s some sage advice for all those out there who watched the Philadelphia Eagles play and win Super Bowl LII just a few short months ago. If you haven’t seen the Eagles play since the Super Bowl, and if you tuned in last night for the first time since that miracle victory to watch the Super Bowl Champions, you watched in horror as the Eagles lost to the Cleveland Browns in a preseason matchup. The final score: 5-0. Hello? Are you still there? Yes, I said FIVE nothing. Yes the Eagles may be getting off to a rough start, but don’t press the panic button.

Please note that I said the Cleveland Browns, not the Cleveland Indians. If the Phillies lost to the Indians in a BASEBALL game, and you told me that we lost to them 5-0, I’d say, bummer. But this was a professional, NFL FOOTBALL game. And the Eagles played those same Cleveland Browns who haven’t won a game since forever ago. That’s right. The winning team scored a whopping five points. And the Eagles were not the winning team.

What’s that? You don’t watch preseason football? Well, neither did I until the Eagles won the Super Bowl, baby! And I was looking for that Super Bowl bump to carry us right to Super Bowl LIII in the ATL, Hot-lanta.

What’s that? This 2018 Eagles team is NOT nor nowhere near like 2017 Super Bowl team? They’re not? That’s a rhetorical question, because if you watched most of the first half, like I did, you’d be ready to press the panic button. But don’t do it. Don’t press the panic button – just yet.

The 2017 Eagles started the season with Carson Wentz, and they went 2-2 in the preseason and then began the season by going on a tear – they were 10 -1 and on their way to the Super bowl long before we were even daring to dream about a Super Bowl appearance, much less a superlative Super Bowl Victory.

But that was then. And this is now. And now, while everyone says that the 2018 Eagles are BETTER (at least on paper) than the 2017 Eagles, it doesn’t look that way in real life. In real-time, my Iggles are looking like they still suffer from a post-Super Bowl slump. And at the bottom of the heap was our dear, darling Nick Foles.

Yes Nick Foles. Last night Nick Foles, the MVP of Super Bowl LII, against Cleveland, mind you, looked like a red-shirt rookie staring into a pair of high beams. In one particularly dismal stretch, Foles stumbled over his own two feet  and fell in the end zone committing a safety, was sacked and fumbled, and for an encore, he threw interceptions on back-to-back possessions. But don’t press the panic button.

Truth be told, Super Bowl champions aren’t shoe-ins to repeat the following season. Yet all of Philly is hoping and praying that our Birds do it again. But the way they look now, we’ll need another miracle to pull off another miracle.

As believers, we are not to panic. We aren’t supposed to be anxious, we’re not supposed to worry, and God told us not to fear and not to fret? Why? Because God’s got in all in control. He’s got the whole world in his hand, and he’s got you and me, brother in His hand. In other words, in scripture after scripture, we’re admonished to walk by faith, to trust God, and, yes, in my translation, not to press the panic button.

The disciples were in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus was fast asleep down in the hold. A storm arose, the winds were whiping and the boat was tripping. It was a high and stormy gale. And so the disciples pressed the panic button. But when Jesus woke up, he chastised them for fearing, and spoke to the sea and said, “Peace, be still.”

And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? Mark 4:39-41, KJV

Whether it’s watching your team get hammered in a preseason football game or struggling to believe the promises of God, don’t press the panic button. Whether you’re going through a tough test on the job or waiting for your miracle, don’t press the panic button. I fact, here’s what we all should do instead; have faith in God. Remember, whatever you’re going through . . .

don’t press the panic button.

Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul Won Our R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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Aretha Franklin won our respect. Not only did she win it, but she earned it, and she deserved it. She sang gospel and jazz and just about everything else in between. Her singing brought her to sports as she sang the national anthem at Super Bowl XL, the 1993 World Series, the 2004 NBA Finals, the 2011 ALCS in Detroit and an unforgettable rendition at the traditional 2016 Thanksgiving Day NFL Game in Detroit.

Aretha’s “been called a musical genius who seemed lost whenever she was not in front of a microphone or piano.

Not content with becoming the Queen of Soul in the late ’60s, Aretha Franklin became the greatest popular singer in American history, an artist whose electrifying voice combined the purest elements of gospel, jazz and blues, leaving fans breathless and critics tripping over their words trying to describe it.”

Unfortunately, in sports and in life, with fame invariably comes some shame. Aretha became pregnant at the tender young age of 12 and “gave birth to her first child, named Clarence after her father, on January 28, 1955. According to the news site inquisitor, the father of the child was Donald Burk, a boy she knew from school.” On January 22, 1957, then aged 14, Franklin had a second child, named Edward after his father Edward Jordan. Franklin did not like to discuss her early pregnancies with interviewers.

Franklin dealt with weight issues for years. In 1974, she dropped 40 pounds (18 kg) during a crash diet and maintained her new weight until the end of the decade. She again lost weight in the early 1990s, before gaining some back. And she was a former chain smoker who struggled with alcoholism.” And then of course she battled pancreatic cancer, that demon that destroyed her body, but could not touch her indomnimble soul.

Yet through it all, she sang. Aretha sang with her heart and with her soul. She sang till you felt the words and the meaning of those words way down on the inside. She didn’t just scratch the surface; she cut to the core and hit home. We rocked and rolled with her as she sang because her vocals touched us just like the rubber meets the road. This is why we loved her so.

This is why Aretha won and earned our respect. Just like she sang, Aretha earned our respect. Just like she sang,

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Find out what it means to me

“Franklin received numerous honors throughout her career, including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, becoming the first female performer to be inducted, National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2012, she was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. In Rolling Stone Franklin is listed in at least two all-time lists by Rolling Stone magazine, including the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. She was ranked by Rolling Stone as the No. 1 greatest singer of all time.”

Rest in peace, Aretha. We will miss you.

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Tiger Woods: Will He Make It All The Way Back?

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Tiger Woods at the 2018 PGA Championship, Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis

Now it seems as if Tiger Woods is always a bridesmaid, and not the bride. 

Tiger didn’t win the 2018 PGA Championship today. Tiger did not win his elusive 15th career major title at the PGA Championship. And Tiger did not sink the shots and the puts and the drives that he needed to hit to come out on top. But Tiger did win the hearts of the fans and he came away encouraged after his best finish at a major in nearly a decade. He lost by two strokes; and he was only one shot off the lead coming down the back nine. And he’s come in 2nd seven times now since coming back from back surgery.  

“The St. Louis fans waited 17 years to see Woods, and he delivered a performance that took golf back in time. Without hitting a fairway on the front nine, Woods cut the four-shot deficit to two. Dialed in on the back nine, he hit his approach to a foot on the 15th hole to get within one shot. The winner, Brooks Koepka, heard the roars from the crowd, all for Woods, and he answered with great shots of his own, finally converting the birdies to pull away.

Amid relentless pandemonium, Koepka ran off three straight birdies to end the front nine and seize control. When he was tied with Adam Scott through 14 holes, with Woods one shot behind, he delivered back-to-back birdies.

The crowd was enormous, louder than anything in golf this side of Augusta National or a Ryder Cup, and Woods looked closer than ever to capping his comeback from four back surgeries with another major.

Even with two bogeys, Woods shot 64 for his lowest final round in a major. He finished at 266, beating by three shots his best 72-hole score in a major.

But, it wasn’t enough. ‘I played hard,” Woods said. “I made a bit of a run. It looks like I’m going to come up a little short.’” http://www.cbc.ca/sports/golf/pga-championship-final-round-tiger-woods-brooks-koepka-1.4782774

And sometimes we all feel that way too, don’t we? We play our best, and live our best, and play our hearts out and give our all; and yet and still we come up short.

This is where the spiritual side of sports comes in. When we come up short, God fills in the gaps and the holes and the cracks so that we can be healthy and whole. We are only complete in Him. We are only victorious in Him. We are only winners in Him. In fact,  we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. Thank God. Thank God for Jesus. Thank God that Heaven knew that we would come up short and came to our rescue.

God is still filling in our cracks and covering for us when we fall short. And He does it every time.  God is still giving us bonus “stoppage” time to score a goal and giving us overtime to win the game and giving us extra innings to drive in the winning run. God is still redeeming our lives from corruption and disruption and destruction. Yes, God is still working miracles for us.

Perhaps God will work a miracle for Tiger Woods, on the golf course, and in the course of his life,  too.

Victoria Arlen: “Face It, Embrace It, Defy It, Conquer It”

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If you need a good cry, a downright tearjerker, or you just want to sob for joy, watch the new 30 For 30 Shorts Documentary about Victoria Arlen. After overcoming insurmountable odds at a young age, Victoria has lived each and every day to the tune of her motto “face it, embrace it, defy it, conquer it.”

It’s must see TV. Here’s a snippet from Victoria’ web page.

“Imagine for a moment being trapped inside your own body for four grueling years, unable to communicate with the outside world as your health continued to deteriorate while expert doctors offer your loved ones no signs of hope. Yet you were still there. In mind and spirit you were still you, desperately trying to find a way back to the life you once knew. Victoria Arlen has not only been through this astonishing battle simply to survive, but she has found ways to thrive and has turned her life’s challenges into an unending source of fuel that has led to extraordinary accomplishments.”

“I was told it couldn’t be done. My dream was impossible. But on March 3, 2016, after spending 10 years in a wheelchair paralyzed from the waist down, I took my first steps without assistance. That was no easy task.”

Victoria Arlen went from a horrific sickness to being paralyzed from the waist down to winning gold medals at the London Para-Olympic Games in 2012 to being a runner up in Dancing with the Stars. Vitoria has an absolutely incredible testimony.

Victoria Arlen sounds like a candidate for a chapter in the next volume of “Upsets Comebacks and Turnarounds.”

Brian Dawkins: The Best Eagle Ever

 

 

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Brian Dawkins 2018 NFL Hall of Fame Speech

Faith, family & football: these are the three key elements in the life of Brian Dawkins, arguably one of the best players to don a Philadelphia Eagles uniform in the modern era. Dawkins is passionate about everything, and everything starts with faith. Faith the noun and faith the verb were Dawkins’ No. 1 traits. He practiced what he preached and he lived what he learned.

Dawkins’ speech at the 2018 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony was one for the ages. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and stop reading right now and watch it. Please. It’s totally worth it. B-Dawk was the first Eagle to reach the Hall since Reggie White, the “Minister of Defense” in 2005, and it was worth the wait. I’ve watched the clip over and over and I’m moved to tears and cry like a baby every time.

Dawkins began his speech by giving praise to God. He shouted “hallelujah” before uttering any other words. It set the tone and paved the way for a stirring, rousing, emotionally moving speech that revealed that there was no shame in Brian Dawkins game. His past, private struggles are now very public, as he detailed how his pain gave birth to his gain. Dawkins faith and his family, especially his wife, were vital to helping him deal with the vicissitudes of his life,

Dawkins was a great football player and he wasn’t great by accident. He was a great player because he is a better person. He urged everyone not to settle, but to push through the pain, because there is purpose in pain. You saw how he played the game; he played with reckless abandon. And that’s how he lives. Dawkins told us that his pain increased his faith exponentially. He said that he went “through” his struggles – he did not stay in them. And he encouraged everyone with these words: “Don’t stay where you are; keep moving and keep pressing through.”  

If we didn’t learn anything else from the 2018 NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony, we learned this; it’s faith that gets us through, it’s family that carries us through, and football, for most of the inductees, as rough and tough as it can be, connected the two together. Brian Dawkins, Randy Moss and Ray Lewis are symbols of the faith we need to have in God, the strength that family gives us, and the joy of being a part of a championship caliber team that endures pain and struggle and secures victories and upsets and comebacks and turnarounds in providential ways. 

So take it from Brian Dawkins: push through. There’s s gain on the other side of your pain.

 

The “I Promise School:” LeBron Will Not Shut Up and Dribble

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LeBron James is more than a basketball player, an NBA World Champion and a perenial Allstar. He is the driving force behind a brand new, cutting edge school for underprivileged inner city kids.

Unfortunately, earlier this year, journalist Laura Ingraham sought to rebuke the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James for “talking politics” and being active off of the basketball court. She had the audacity to tell LeBron to “shut up and dribble.” Yet LeBron continues to defy the naysayers and do more than dribble.

LeBton’s “I Promise School” in Ackron, Ohio is a wonder to behold. And LeBron deserves all of the credit in the world for giving back to his home town and the community that he came from. LeBron hasn’t forgotten his roots and the rough road he had on his way out of poverty and adversity.

It just goes to show that sports and life go hand in hand. Being active socially and civicly and even politically should not and even cannot be divorced from sports. LeBron demonstrated that you can translate and transfer your influence from the hardwood and the diamond and the gridiron to where the rubber meets the road; everyday life.

We all would do well to follow LeBron’s shinnimg example.