The Part of Life That Hurts The Most

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On the first night of the season, in the first game of the season, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward was carried off of the floor in Cleveland after suffering a horrific-looking left ankle injury a little less than six minutes into his Boston debut Tuesday night.

Hayward’s left leg bent awkwardly as he landed under the Celtics basket with 6 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first quarter. Teammates and Cavaliers players including LeBron James rushed to check on Hayward as he was stretchered from the court.

Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade knelt with his hand on his head nearby as team doctors attended to Hayward. Shell-shocked Celtics players huddled, with Kyrie Irving burying his head in the chests of teammates Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum.

Cleveland fans gave Hayward a standing ovation as he was taken from the court with his entire left leg immobilized in an air cast. He was immediately taken to the Cavaliers locker room for more evaluation. James and former Celtics teammate Isaiah Thomas, who recruited Hayward to Boston over the summer, went into the Cavaliers locker room where he was receiving medical attention.

Unsuspected, unpredicted, unwanted and unwarranted injuries to the best and brightest players hurt the most. And that’s just like life. Like Hayward, Aaron Rodgers was carted off of the field Sunday after the young season held so much promise and the rest of the season held so much potential. 

The possibities in Boston were endless, as Hayward teamed up with Kyrie Irving to challenge Irving’s old team and teammate, LeBron and the Cavs. But all that’s gone, at least for now.

So how do we deal with the hurt side and the down side of life? How do we deal with the wounds and injuries and bruises? How do we deal with the pain — and pain will come —especially when we were expecting to celebrate being physically healthy and emotionally wealthy and whole?

We need to take time to heal; we need to make time to mend, and we need to have time to allow God to restore our souls. Oh, and one more thing; don’t rush the healing process.  Time does not heal all wounds; God does.

The part of life that hurts the most is when we have to convalesce when we want to compete. It hurts when we have to sit when we want to run. It’s painful to see someone go through pain without the power to aid and assist in a tangible way. Someone said that sometimes we can’t do anything to help but pray.

Even when it seems like we can’t do anything, praying is everything. Because at all times, the best thing to do is pray.

Your Dreams Are Your Ticket Out

Kotter_Gabe Kaplan

TV Shows in the ‘70s were the best. And they had great theme songs. One of my favorites was the opening song for “Welcome Back Kotter.” This was a great, family friendly sit-com (they don’t make ‘em like they used to, right?) starring Gabe Kaplan as a wisecracking high school teacher in charge of a racially and ethnically diverse remedial class called the “Sweathogs.” The show also featured John Travolta in his television debut.

Welcome Back Kotter Group Pic

The show is all about redemption. Redemption for Kotter, redemption for his students, and redemption for the viewers as well. Kotter came back to his high school and gave back to the same kids and same place that he somehow succeeded from.

His comeback was a dream come true.

Your dreams are you ticket out. It’s a great song with great truth.  Dreams, for the most part, point to the future and forewarn or foretell of impending tragedy or imminent triumph.  Biblically, while most dreams are relegated to the OT, the prophet Joel does say that in the last days “old men shall dream dreams.”

Joseph, the son of Jacob, dreamed that his brothers and even his mother and father would bow down to him. And his brothers hated him for it. Because of his dreams, his brothers sold him down the river, and he ended up in Egypt. After being falsey accused he landed in jail. But as Providence would have it, he eventually interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. As a reward for predicting the future, Joseph became second in command in Egypt and was in charge of storing up grain during the good times and distributing grain during the bad times.  Meanwhile, back home in Israel, Joseph sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain, from, who else — Joseph, and thus Joseph’s dreams became his ticket out.

And your dreams can become your ticket out. So what are you dreaming? What are you believing God for? What do you desire? What do you long for that seems like its light years away?

My Philadelphia Eagles are dreaming of a Super Bowl Win.  For the Philly faithful, winning the Super Bowl is more than a dream — it’s like heaven; it’s a real place, somewhere out there, over the rainbow. We know it exists but we just can’t get there right now.

But that can all change this year. With a little Wentz and with a lot of hard work, this can be the Eagles’ year.  And it can be your year too. So keep hope alive.  And keep hoping. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

And may all of your dreams come true.

Note to the Nats: Now, You Have To Win!

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Last night a young, little known, Washington Nationals outfielder took the plate in the eighth inning with the bases loaded. And guess what happened? You got it – Michael A. Taylor  hit a GRAND SLAM home run!  It’s only the first postseason grand slam in the Nat’s short history. The Nats were already winning 1-0, and the grand slam sealed the deal.

Before Taylor’s late inning heroics, National’s Ace Stephen Strasburg shook off an illness and pitched seven dominant innings, and held the Cubs scoreless as he beat Chicago in Chicago AT Wrigley Field to send their NL Division Series to a decisive Game 5 at Nationals Park tonight, October 12th, 2017.

And in Game 2,  entering the eighth, Washington trailed 3-1. But all hope was not lost. Enter Adam Lind. In his first career postseason game, Lind hit a single to rekindle hope. No outs. Trea Turner, who has struggled all series, again struck out in a big moment, but star and boy wonder Bryce Harper made the most of his, hitting a massive two-run shot to tie the game. Later in the inning, elder statesman Ryan Zimmerman had his hero moment: a three-run homer to put the Nationals up 6-3. And that would do it, as the Nationals held on to win, 6-3.

Now, all the Nats have to do is win Game 5 at home against the defending champion Chicago Cubs. That’s it. No problem, right?  The only problem is that the Nats have NEVER won a playoff series.  Never ever. And they’ve lost Game 5’s at home. But that could all change tonight.

The same goes for you and me too. Past failures and fumbles can all be washed away with one swing of the bat.  The setbacks we’ve suffered and meltdowns we’ve mustered and the lossess  and  let downs we’ve lived with can and will be forgiven and forgotten in a moment.

Because the turnaround can start today.

Stop Dancing With Your Demons: Aaron Rodgers Shows Us The Way

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Aaron Rodgers doesn’t think he can win, he knows he can win. And I dare say he knows he WILL WIN, especially late in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line against the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas.

Aaron Rodgers is 6-2 lifetime against the Dallas Cowboys.  But more importantly, he’s undefeated in late game heroics against the Boys in Big “D”. For the second time in nine months, the Cowboys scored 31 points against the Packers … and lost. And for the second time in less than a year, Aaron led a last-minute, last gasp, last chance, game winning drive, and led the Green Bay Packers to victory in fantastic fashion.

Rodgers ruined what could have been one of Dak Prescott’s best moments — a 17-play drive that covered 79 yards and lasted 8:43. Dallas led 31-28 with 1:13 left in the game after the last Dallas score. And Dallas was in complete control of the game at the start when Prescott threw three touchdown passes on the Cowboys’ first three drives.

But once again, Aaron Rodgers has buoyed us and begged us to turn our bogeys into birdies (How’s that for a mixed sports metaphor?) Once again, Aaron Rodgers has shown us that we can bounce back from our blunders and come back and perform wonders.

Yes Rodgers did it again.  And the lesson is clear: you can win with little or next to no time left on the clock. You can beat back the bastions you’re battling and the strongholds you’re struggling to defeat. You can.

So stop it; just stop it.

Stop dancing with your demons. Stop saying what you can’t do. Stop whining and start worshiping. Stop pouting and start praising. Stop complaining and start clapping your hands and leaping for joy.  Stop the mindless madness of missing miserably and start the anticipatory gladness that leads to triumphing gloriously. Just say it and believe and achieve it. Just do it. 

You can make, if you just believe.

Survival of the Fittest

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 24, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott (4) is carried off the field by outside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (54) and outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (95) after kicking a game winning 61 yard field goal as time expires for a victory against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.                                           Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports    

Jake Elliott is now a hero in Philly.  He got carried off the playing field after a thrilling, comeback  win in the Eagle’s home opener. But first, let’s talk about Penn State’s equally stunning win.

Penn State pulled off one of the most improbable, implausible wins of the season and maybe of Coach James Geoffrey Franklin’s career. His young guns came through in the clutch as the No. 4 Nittany Lions survived their trip to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.  Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley found Juwan Johnson for a seven-yard touchdown as time expired — beating Iowa 21-19 on Saturday night.

It was a final drive to remember. Penn State had just 90 seconds to go 80 yards to overcome the 19-15 deficit. It got to the 7-yard line thanks to seven McSorley completions and a 12-yard McSorley run. With four seconds left, on fourth-and-goal, McSorley audibled and found Johnson over the middle to complete the last-second comeback.

And to top off the weekend, my Eagles beat the New York Football Giants in epic fashion. Philly’s rookie kicker hit a record-setting, 61-yard field goal as time expired. Elliot’s longest previous kick had been 55 yards.  Elliot, who just joined the team two weeks ago, set up for the kick with one second on the game clock. The snap and the hold were all good, and as all of Philly watched with bated breath, the ball just barely nicked the right upright and sailed over the crossbar with no time left on the clock.

Both Penn State and the Eagles had the game in hand but seemingly let their victories slip away as Iowa State and the Giants both grabbed leads late in the game. But both victorious Pennsylvania teams had enough gumption and gusto to march down the field and win their games in walk off style.

The term “survival of the fittest” is a Darwinian term referring to “those traits best suited to perpetuate the species that endure to be passed along indefinitely from generation to generation. Conversely, those traits most detrimental to the good of the species will be phased out after a few generations.”  While we do not subscribe to evolution, we can borrow, repurpose and re-apply this term  to sports teams and players appropriately.   

In sports, fitness means you have work out your kinks and worked on your game and have survived the tests and the trials and the sufferings and the pains that come part and parcel with every day of practice and every game of the week and every season of your career. And the same goes for life. Your survive the tests and trials  of life and emerge intact; you may be battered  and you may be bruised, but in the end your spirit is unbroken and you’re no worse for the wear. 

So, even if you’re not a fan of the Nittany Lions or of the Philadelphia Eagle’s, you have to love how these two teams emerged and evolved through their games and survived.  It’s a lesson for us all.

Always remember, it aint over till it’s over. Even with 0.4 seconds or 0.1 second on the clock, you too can survive.

Colin Kaepernick Deserves A Second Chance

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Right now, Colin Kaepernick is looking down. His prospects of playing again in the NFL are looking down too. And his outlook and the current outcome of his nationally known protest against racial injustice are looking about as good as he is. But there’s always hope, right? I mean, everybody deserves a second chance, right? It’s called redemption. It’s called restoration. It’s called revival.

The truth is, 2nd chances are the foundation of our faith. Getting another shot is the backbone of our belief system. And coming back from the dead is the hallmark of our hope and peace. Upsets, comebacks and turnarounds are on every page of God’s Playbook.  And who on earth couldn’t use a little rejuvenation every now and then?

This is from the Undefeated.

“On the day Colin Kaepernick said he still wants to play in the NFL, five-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady said the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is qualified to play and he hopes to see him back on the field.

Former New York Daily News reporter and Fair Punishment Project writer-in-residence Shaun King posted a picture of himself with Kaepernick just after 11 a.m. Sunday, and less than 30 minutes later, quote tweeted his post explaining that he had asked the free-agent quarterback whether he wanted to continue playing in the NFL.

Less than an hour later, Brady threw his support behind the Super Bowl quarterback in an exclusive interview with CBS Sunday Morning.

‘I’ve always watched him and admired him. The way that he’s played he was a great young quarterback,’ the New England Patriots quarterback told CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell. ‘He came to our stadium and beat us and took his team to the Super Bowl. He accomplished a lot in the pros as a player. And he’s certainly qualified, and I hope he gets a shot.’

Kaepernick started a national conversation about the injustices black people and people of color face in America and at the hands of police by sitting and eventually kneeling during the national anthem last season. He also has donated $900,000 of the $1 million he pledged to give to charitable organizations and advocacy groups last October.

Kaepernick opted out of his contract in March. Two weeks into the NFL season, he has visited with only one team, the Seattle Seahawks in May. The Baltimore Ravens discussed bringing in Kaepernick in July after starter Joe Flacco suffered an injury. Thirty-seven quarterbacks have signed with NFL teams since Kaepernick became a free agent.

Pro Football Talk reported Sunday that some Cincinnati Bengals players would like the team to consider signing Kaepernick. The Bengals have not scored a touchdown in their first two games, and starter Andy Dalton has struggled. A.J. McCarron is Dalton’s backup. The Bengals’ front office has not expressed interest in Kaepernick.

Last month, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers said it would be ignorant to believe Kaepernick is being held out of the league for anything other than his national anthem protest.” By Rhiannon Walker @InstantRHIplay; https://theundefeated.com/features/colin-kaepernick-says-hes-ready-to-play-tom-brady-hopes-he-gets-a-shot/

Amen Brother.

So whadaya say? Let’s start a national campaign to get Kaepernick back in the saddle. Because in sports and it life, everybody deserves a 2nd chance.

Terps Topple Texas 51 – 41: a.k.a., Why We Love College Football!

Fear the Turtle

My Maryland Terrapins beat the Texas Longhorns in a shootout, 51 -41! Who saw that comin’? Texas was supposed to blow out and beat up and beat down my alma mater, but Maryland outscored them and out bested them and outlasted them in an early season shocker that reverberated all across college football from sea to shining sea.

So here’s to my Terps!  They pulled an upset for the ages, and hopefully they can build on this momentous win. And that’s the truth for all of us; big wins give us all hope and faith and confidence and courage. When we see our teams, and even someone else’s team, pull off the unthinkable and the almost impossible, it gives us a shot in the arm and a pat on the pants.

A shot in the arm is an expression derived from the invigorating effect of injecting drugs.  And a big win is a welcome dose of prescriptive medicine for what ails us. A shot is of course US slang for an injection, either of a narcotic or medicinal drug, and means a stimulus or impetus.

So thank God and thank you Maryland Terrapins for the inspiration and the motivation and the medication of the shot that the win over Texas gave us.