What’s the Deal with Dak?

Dak After Loss

Dak Prescott after the 26-15 loss to Buffalo on Thanksgiving Day

If there was ever a team destined for drama, it is the Dallas Cowboys.  They have a prima donna owner, a puppet of a coach, and players like Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot that just keep the story line going. And they play in the world’s most bodacious stadium.

And that’s how some people are; full of hype but no hope, full of fluff but no real stuff. They’re just good on paper. And right now, the Dallas Cowboys (and my Eagles too!) are just good on paper.

According to NFL custom, yesterday the Cowboys played their annual Thanksgiving Day game.  The fans in the Jerry Dome (a.k.a. AT&T Stadium) were joined by a national television audience that watched in horror as the ‘Boys proceeded to lose to the Buffalo Bills, 26 -15, and it wasn’t that close. The Buffalo Bills entered their Thanksgiving Day matchup with an impressive 8-3 record, but most analysts didn’t give Buffalo much of a chance to contend in the playoffs, and they were 6.5-point underdogs in Dallas on Thursday. But after an impressive, opening first quarter drive that made the ‘Boys look invincible, they managed to literally fumble and bumble the game away.

Now let’s provide a little context. This was the game after the game that they lost to the World champion New England Patriots. After the loss to the Pats, their prima donna owner ripped Head Coach Jason Garrett and the coaching staff a new one. Jerry all but threatened to fire the entire coaching staff for the poor performance on the field.

But were taking about Dak here. Coaches can’t control performance and execution, and Dak hasn’t being playing well of late.  You would think that Dak would come out and play lights out like Lamar Jackson, especially AT HOME on Thanksgiving. Nope. Didn’t happen, at least not for the last 50 minutes of the game. You would think that Dak would dance his way back into the favor of Cowboy Nation and put some distance between them and Philly; strike two. And you would think that the entire Cowboys team would show up and show out if they wanted to save their coach.  Clang. That one bounced off the back of the rim. Game, set match, Buffalo Bills. 

Maybe Dak needs to do his pregame dance a little more? (Or is a little less?) Oh well. It all may come down to a Eagles/Dallas showdown in Philly in a few weeks.

Go Birds! 

 

Down Goes Duke! Stephen F. Austin Defeats Duke in an Upset for the Ages

Stephen F. Austin Defeats Duke
Stephen F. Austin hands No. 1 Duke its first non conference home loss since 2000

It’s one of the most heartening and heartwarming, feel-good sports stories of the year, at least for everyone who hates Duke. Yes, this one is being celebrated by non-Duke fans everywhere.  Little, lanky, Lilliputian Stephen F. Austin State University just defeated Duke 85 – 83 in overtime at Cameron Indoor Arena.  Unbelievable.  In other words, Stephen F. Austin (SFA) just became Cinderella personified and made a pre-Ball appearance in November, and she’s lookin’ girly good.  

It’s a long ways off from the madness of March, folks.

First of all, where IS SFA anyway?  I had to look it up. SFA is a public university in Nacogdoches, Texas. Yes, Nacogdoches.  Seriously.  It’s in East Texas.  SFA was founded as a teaching school and now has 12,614 enrolled students. And now this pint sized David just beat juggernaut Goliath with a sling shot and a stone.

As sports fans, this is what we live for. This is why every sports fan should go to church every Sunday (before or after the game). And this is how the theology of sports points us to the mystery of Godliness.

Upsets, comebacks and turnarounds is what Heaven is all about. God is the God of the underdog. Our Lord came to upset the negative status quo. The King of Kings is orchestrator of all comebacks, and the Root and Offspring of David is the one who turns every pitch black and hopelessly bleak situation all the way around, for good.

Here’s how we know: Duke was favored to win by 27 points. Stephen F. Austin was not just in the game, but they outscored Duke in the paint by a mile. That doesn’t happen every day, not even when Duke plays a RANKED opponent. 

After the historic game, here’s what Coach K had to say:

“They were better. Bottom line,” Krzyzewski said. “They were tougher than we were. They played with great poise. And we helped them. You can’t give up 64 points in the paint. We don’t even give up 64 points. And we gave up so many layups. You go 11-of-24 from the foul line in the second half, it’s just a recipe to lose. So we weren’t deserving of winning. That team was deserving of winning, and they won.”

If you’re wondering why this game, this upset win, is such a big deal, here’s what ESPN had to say:

“No. 1 Duke suffered its first loss of the season in stunning fashion Tuesday as the Blue Devils lost an overtime stunner at the buzzer to Stephen F. Austin, 85-83, in an absolutely wild ending at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke became the third No. 1 team to lose this in NOVEMBER, seeing its 150-game non-conference home winning streak snapped by Stephen F. Austin senior forward Nathan Bain’s coast-to-coast layup at the overtime buzzer. The Blue Devils entered the game as 27.5-point favorites, making the Lumberjacks’ win the biggest Division I upset of the past 15 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Duke took a 15-point first-half lead, but SFA — which had just lost to Rutgers and finished below .500 last season — came all the way back in the second half to take the lead in the final minutes. The game went into OT when Duke’s Cassius Stanley missed a contested midrange jumper at the buzzer.

Stephen F. Austin was able to secure a loose ball under Duke’s basket and then senior forward Nathan Bain drove the ball the length of the floor and banked in a layup just as the buzzer sounded.

It’s easily the biggest win the history of Stephen F. Austin. The team never backed down from Duke down the stretch of regulation and throughout overtime before this layup won it.” https://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/28172273/duke-college-basketball-latest-no-1-casualty-stephen-f-austin-pulls-ot-stunner

And there it is: there’s the epiphany and the theophany. The revealed Truth we are to live and learn is this – in the face of a big, bad, bully, never back down. Darkness will be defeated by the light, and right will overcome might. When all hell is breaking loose, never ever give up.

Never give up. You can make it! Your dreams are your ticket out, and your dreams can come true. Just ask Nathan Bain and the Stephen F. Austin University Men’s basketball team.

Lamar Jackson For President! (or at least MVP)

 

lamarjackson
Lamar Jackson is the Baltimore Raven’s star quarterback and he’s destined for greatness. He should win the 2019 NFL MVP Award, and much more.

Lamar Jackson is the hottest thing since the iPhone 11; and LJ is hotter.  Last night on Monday Night Football, Jackson was the first quarterback to throw five, count ‘em – FIVE TD passes in his MNF debut, and he didn’t even play the entire game. What’s next for this MVP front runner?  The Super Bowl? The White House?  World Leader?

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Lamar Jackson is a rare talent indeed. Let’s all hope that he’s stays healthy and injury free as he makes a run for 1600 PA Ave, err, I mean NFL MVP.

For those who don’t know him or haven’t seen him play yet (like me!- no I did NOT see the game last night. I was too busy watching the Sixers blow a late game lead and lose to the Toronto Raptors. Seriously?)

Anyway, for those who don’t know who Lamar Jackson is, here’s the skinny on him:

“Lamar Demeatrice Jackson Jr. is an American football quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League. He played college football at Louisville where Jackson won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award.” And he’s not finished collecting hardware. There’s certainly more to come. Did someone say Super Bowl?

“Jackson was selected with the 32nd overall pick by the Ravens in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Intended to serve as a backup in his rookie season, Jackson became the Ravens’ starting quarterback after starter Joe Flacco was injured in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He earned recognition during the year for his on-field success, which included helping the team clinch the AFC North division title and became the youngest starting quarterback in NFL playoff history.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamar_Jackson  

And here’s how one reporter compared Jackson to Michael Vick:

“As somebody who saw every play of 22-year-old Michael Vick for the Atlanta Falcons up close and personal in 2002 as a columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, trust me on this.

Lamar Jackson is no Michael Vick.

Jackson is better. He’s more focused, more studious, more disciplined, more incredible, more everything than Vick at 22. It’s not even close.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/terencemoore/2019/11/26/when-it-comes-to-early-stardom-in-the-nfl-lamar-jackson-is-no-michael-vick/#36bded6e4e87

Don’t Bet Against The Buckeyes

Ohio State

 

Ohio State just passed its first serious test of the season. Ohio State, now 10 -0, just beat Penn State at “The Shoe” and convinced the college football world that they are one of the best teams in the country.  Penn State tried everything – forcing fumbles, throwing in a backup quarterback, and then unleashing a surprisingly staunch defense in the Third Quarter – but it wasn’t enough as nothing could stop the Buckeyes.

Penn State found themselves down 14 -0 at the half and then 21-0 in the Third Quarter but closed to 21 -14. Testy Penn State tested the Ohio State, but in the end, it was Ohio State’s phenom QB Justin Fields who kept making NFL-caliber plays with his arm and legs that won the day.

Now, the Buckeyes have to beat their real arch rival, Michigan, next week in Ann Arbor to win the Big Ten Title and stay in the hunt for the college football championship. 

Someone once said, that when the goin’ gets tough, the tough get goin’, and Ohio State’s star power on offense and defense got a goin’ today.  Chase Young, Ohio State’s standout defensive end and Heisman hopeful played with a chip on his shoulder after serving a two game suspension for a NCAA rules violation. And Running back J.K. Dobbins ran all over the Nittany Lions. Dobbins ran the ball 36 times for 157 yards and Justin Fields ran for another 68 yards, and Penn State could not fully answer the Buckeyes.

The moral of the story is this: pass the test.  Dig in and hold out and buckle up and hunker down. You can pass the test. You can. Determine to overcome your mistakes and missteps and play like there’s no tomorrow

Good On Paper

Carson Wentz after Seattle Loss
At the beginning of the 2019 season, Philly fans said that Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles looked good on paper.

 This blog was originally entitled, “Don’t Give Up On Your Team, Vol. II, a.k.a., ‘What’s With Wentz?’  Instead, “Good On Paper” says it all.

At the beginning of the 2019 season, the Philadelphia Eagles looked good on paper. They had speed at the wide receiver position in DeSean Jackson, they had depth on defense, and — ahem — presumably they had a healthy Carson Wentz, our franchise quarterback, ready to return to his vintage form. But that was then, And THAT was on paper.

Carson Wentz had arguably his worst game as a professional yesterday as the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 17-9.  Wentz committed five, count’ em, FIVE turnovers, and lost four, with two interceptions and two fumbles.  Two words immediately come to mind: unbelievable and unacceptable.

Dude.  Brother.  Homie. I mean really? Seriously? C’mon Man! Man up, settle down, bring her in and get the lead out.  Wentz, you are better than this. But you’re not showing it. And the Philly Faithful is holding out hope that you will return to the MVP form you had at the beginning of the 2017 Super Bowl Season. Did I mention the Super Bowl LII win? Surely I digress, Yes, Philly fans are still holding on and holding out for a repeat performance from our wonderful Wentz of a quarterback. But Man! Is this guy making it hard or what?

For the Philadelphia Eagles, to say that this season has not gone according to plan is putting it mildly.  The Eagles are a paltry and pitiful 5-6, and there are at least two games that we’ve, I mean THEY, have lost early on in the season that should have gone the other way.

But some say that there’s still hope. Some say that the Eagles still have a chance (a fat one?) at winning the Division, the NFC East. The Eagles have a light schedule against pancake teams the rest of the way, such as Miami, the Giants TWICE and the Redskins. But there is no guarantee that things will get better.  Based on Carson’s play yesterday, things could absolutely, utterly and totally go from bad to worse. There is no guarantee that these Eagles, or more specifically, Carson Wentz, will right the ship and earnestly and honestly content for a crown, this year or even next.

But we must not lose hope in our team, right? We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater, and we must not jump to conclusions, right? But we also must lift our faith from the pages of the Bible to the table or our hearts. Faith without works is dead. And thus far this season, this Eagles team has given us little faith and less to work with. 

ON PAPER, we should still hold out and hold on to hope: Here’s how heavy.com put the Eagles chances:

“The Eagles’ record stands at 5-6, while the Cowboys dropped to 6-5. It’s a one-game difference with five games to play. The way the Birds have played in recent weeks leaves room for doubt. Maybe their offense can’t score enough points to even win another game. Hold on. Look at their remaining schedule.

Philadelphia has the 12th-easiest schedule the rest of the way, according to Team Rankings. Their opponents’ records are a combined 18-41 while the Cowboys still face stiff tests against the Bills (8-3), Rams (6-4) and Bears (5-6).

(On paper,) the Eagles should reel off three straight wins starting this week in Miami, with a showdown at Lincoln Financial Field versus Dallas on the horizon in Week 16. That game would likely decide the NFC East. As bad as Philadelphia has played, (on paper), it’s all in front of them.”

In other words, the Eagles have a chance of making the playoffs, as their chances of winning the Division are good, but they’re only good on paper.

Good on paper. For more than a few folks, everything adds up, on paper.  It’s sad to say, but most of the majority of mankind (in the West, at least) may well have it all together, on paper. That’s what some people are like. They appear good and they show well. They have a good job, they drive a nice car and they live in a big house in a nice neighborhood. They may even go to church, but that’s all on paper.  

Truth be told, some Christians look good, but just on paper. They do the right things, use the right words, and give the right answers. They look nice and shiny on the outside. They go to church every week; they may even sing on the choir or play on the keyboard or even unlock and lock the church doors. They may serve as an usher or a deacon or a Sunday school teacher. They may even preach in the pulpit. But that’s all on paper.

Real people are more than the sum of their parts on paper. How do they actually live? What’s actually in their heart? And why do they do what they do? What is their motivation and inspiration for life?  Do these “good on paper” people actually believe that Jesus Christ is the center and focus of our life of faith?

Alright enough; enough about those “good on paper” patsies. How about you? Does Christ  dictate what you do and what you say? Are you authentically altruistic, genuinely genial and wholeheartedly wholesome?

This Christmas, let’s do better than be good on paper.

Let’s be true for real.  

Is Stephen A. Smith A Sellout?

Stephen A.
Stephen A. from ESPN’s First Take goes off on Colin Kaepernick

Stephen A. is now one of the highest paid ESPN sports analysts, ever. And for this, he is seen by some and maligned by many as a sellout, especially with regard to Colin Kaeperknick’s feud with the NFL, and his recent workout fiasco.

In light of the shenanigans surrounding the workout, Stephen A. voiced his opinions in his usual loud and lurid fashion. Instead of standing with the “Power to the People” position which sees Kaepernick as a martyr for “Black Lives Matter” oppression, Stephen A. continues to deride him as being a rebel without a cause, or more pointedly, a martyr for his own cause.

The jury is still out on Kaepernick. As for Stephen A., his rash, rambling rants sell air time. And so, as far as ESPN is concerned, mission accomplished. Because talking heads are paid to sell air time. However, has anyone paused long enough to consider it seems that more people are talking about the silly workout controversy and Stephen A.’s reaction to it than they are the actual reason why Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem before NFL games in the first place?

I like Kaepernick. I do. And I believe that he deserves, (or is that he deserved?) a second chance. And I like Stephen A. too. He’s a Philly guy. But just because I like them doesn’t mean I agree with them or agree with how they’re handling this situation.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I think it’s time for a fact check: the media has a way of selling and slanting a story, and it’s up to those who love the truth to find the facts. And here are some of the facts:

“Following Colin Kaepernick’s workout on Saturday, Stephen A. Smith of First Take took to social media and said that the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback doesn’t actually want a job in the NFL. He believes that Kaepernick just wants to be a martyr. Monday morning, Smith provided more thoughts on the matter, saying that Saturday’s events just eradicate all of the QB’s points about the NFL.

During an expanded back-and-forth between Smith and his co-hosts, the longtime ESPN analyst explained why he has been critical of Kaepernick in recent days. To him, he doesn’t like how the free agent handled Saturday’s workout, including how he switched the location with fairly little notice.

As Smith continued to explain, multiple moments created questions for him on Saturday. Specifically, he pointed out that the NFL and all of the teams that were scheduled to attend the workout found out about the change in location roughly 30 minutes before the start of the event.

This timeline made it appear to be a last-minute change. It also made it far more difficult for the teams to attend the workout considering that the new location was roughly an hour away from the Atlanta Falcons team facility, which was the original location.

However, Smith said that there were factors that made this switch appear planned. The workout took place at a public high school, and it was captured by videographers on site. Additionally, there was security in place, as well as many Kaepernick supporters in “I know my rights” shirts. For the co-host of First Take, this was just evidence that the former San Francisco 49ers QB had planned to change the location. He believes that Kaepernick would have had to meet with the superintendent of the school and get permission to hold the workout on the field.”

On the other hand, here’s another, opposing and pointed point of view from Luther Campbell of the Miami Herald:

“In the battle to control the narrative of a controversial story, Uncle Tom-esque black pundits play a crucial role in tearing down black professional athletes who rebel against white sports franchise owners. The fallout from Colin Kaepernick’s controversial NFL workout this past Saturday is exposing commentators such as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

Stephen A. was one of the first to tweet and go on television to question Kaepernick’s intentions and justify why NFL teams have blackballed the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback for the past three years because of his National Anthem protests. Tuesday, Smith also defended himself by yelling, “I’m a black man, you idiots!” and claiming throughout his career he’s “taken on the fight on behalf of African-Americans throughout this nation.” https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/miami-city-commissioners-will-vote-to-give-themselves-taxpayer-funded-pensions-11319342

In sum, amidst the clamor and the clanging of media pundits spewing their opinions of Colin Kaeperkick, I’m so glad that I know and love the truth. Because His truth is marching on, the truth is the light, and truth shall prevail.

Don’t Give Up On Your Team

Brett Brown
Philadelphia Coach Brett Brown doesn’t seem to have any answers as the Sixers have lost consecutive games twice early in the 2019-2020 season.

Do you pray for your favorite team? I need to. And I might need to pray for extra strength to continue to cheer for the home team. Because the Philadelphia 76ers are trying my patience and vexing my spirit. On paper, the Sixers are supposed to be better now than they were last season. That hardly seems to be the case.

Last season the Sixers finished strong, taking the eventual NBA Champion Toronto Raptors to a Game seven in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. It all came down to a four bounce bucket by Kawhi Leonard, the Finals MVP, in a loss at the buzzer.

This season we don’t have Butler and Reddick but we do have Al Horford and Josh Richmond. Great! AND Simmons is supposed to have a jump shot. So what’s wrong?

So now I’m writing without shame or chagrin because there’s plenty wrong with this edition. I’m trying not to give up on my team. And of late, MY team, the Philadelphia 76ers, are sometimes hard to root for and thus easy to give up on. But that’s where faith hope and love come in. And since the greatest of these is love, we’ll have to focus on how much Philadelphian’s love their Sixers.

But first, let me get this out of my system:

As of this writing, early in this the 2019-2020 season, the Sixers’ just lost two in a row, last night to the 3-7 Oklahoma City Thunder and then Wednesday night to the then 3-7 Orlando Magic. The Sixers got us all happy and giddy as they began this season 5-0, but since then they’ve lost three in a row, then another two in a row. Over the last week, they have dropped 5 and won only 2.

As for the Orlando game, yes it was the second night of back to back games; no the Sixers didn’t have Embiid (he was “resting”); yes it was on the road; and, one more yes, it is still early in the season. But the playing and the coaching are wanting, as other teams seem to have figured “it” out, even in early November.

Here’s how the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the Orlando loss:

“The Sixers (7-4) missed a lot of easy baskets in the fourth quarter, committed costly turnovers, and had a tough time defending. All those deficiencies were on display during the Magic’s game- clinching 16-4 run that gave them a commanding 102-89 lead with 3 minutes, 12 seconds remaining.”

THEN in Oklahoma City, the Sixers had a 9 point lead late in the fourth quarter but then managed to mismanage their time and their effort. The game went to OT and the Sixers got outscored, out muscled, out played and out coached in the extra session. Sound familiar? The story of the Ben Simmons/Joel Embiid Sixers is sounding more and more like an old, broken record that no one wants to hear.

So what’s a fan to do? Can we “the people” fire Coach Brett Brown? We want to, but no. Can we the fans force Ben Simmons to shoot jump shots? Of course not. And can the Philly fan base limit Joel Embiid’s turnovers? Fat chance. All we the Philly faithful can do is root, root, root for our home team, and hope that the love we show them is reciprocated and turns into wins and a championship ring.

So that’s it. The bottom line is “Don’t give up on your team.” At the end of the day, Philly fans still love the Sixers AND the Eagles, even though they aren’t playing up to their potential.

It’s called grace. We all need it, but in order to receive it, we need to give it too.