Vanessa Bryant, the wife of the late, great NBA Superstar Kobe Bryant, just won a great victory, and triumphed gloriously in the face a clear and crushing loss. Vanessa Bryant, someway and somehow, summoned strength to stand and state her love for her loving husband and her little lady. It was a moving, emotive message of triumph amidst unspeakable tragedy. God bless her! She stood flat footed, and through tears and talking back to herself — “Ok, you can do it” — she motivated the mass of mourners when she herself just wanted to weep and wail and question and query God about why this all happened, and what she’s supposed to do now.
Vanessa Bryant is by all standards a trooper and a champion. Her husband won five NBA Championships, but her performance at her husband’s memorial service at Staples Center on February 24, 2020 was a testament to her greatness and her superior solemnity far beyond what her husband achieved on the basketball court. Vanessa’s strength and courage under fire was phenomenal, and was also absolutely supernatural. Why? Because only Heaven and all things holy could help her handle the stress and the strain of the moment with power and poise.
Vanessa Bryant would have made Kobe proud. She honored her husband and daughter with grit and grace and dignity and distinction. She spoke and stood when she did not want to, but she had to. And it was amazing. What was so amazing was that we all knew that this was an impossible position to be in, and yet in the midst of understandable and allowable grief, she pressed through her own misery and misfortune and sorrow and sadness in order to help the rest of us, hopefully and eventually, overcome ours.
That’s why Heaven had to help. Because she had to do it. And in so doing she carried the burden of her bereavement, even if for a moment, above and beyond the heavy pall of defeat that tried to weigh her down and wipe her out.
God bless you, Vanessa Bryant.
The Bible says to “rejoice with them that rejoice.” But the truth is, some people are easier to root for than others. And Andy Reid would be in the category of “some people” rather than the “others.” Andy has taken a licken and yet he keeps on ticken. I love it. Sounds a lot like a lot of us. Many of us have been through some tough times here lately. We’ve been through the fire and the flood. We’ve had some high highs and some low lows. Yet through it all, we’ve learned to trust in God. My, my.
Learning to trust God is redemption. Sports redemption is a little different from spiritual redemption, but the premise is just the same. After a loss, you are “found” and you find your way back from the brink of defeat, destruction and despair. It’s enough to drive one to tears of joy.
Here’s how Frank Schwab from Yahoo Sports describes Andy’s story, a story that we hope will have a story book ending:
“On January 4, 2013, Andy Reid was limping away from the Philadelphia Eagles, coming off a 4-12 season and being fired. The Kansas City Chiefs were in even worse shape. They went 2-14 in 2012. On that day, the Chiefs hired Reid. The words “Super Bowl” were not mentioned during his introductory news conference a few days later. Both sides were just looking for some way out of the darkness.
But that was then, and this is now.
Now, the Chiefs are going back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. They overcame another slow start and beat the Tennessee Titans 35-24 in the AFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl LIV.
‘We were blessed to be there and sometimes change is good,’ Reid said when announced as Chiefs coach, ‘change will be tremendous for the Philadelphia Eagles and on the other hand, it will be terrific for the Kansas City Chiefs.’
On Sunday, seven years after coming to Kansas City, Reid had his redemption and the Chiefs had snapped one of the most miserable droughts in the NFL.
The most compelling figure of this season’s Super Bowl could be Reid, who is still looking for a ring to validate a great career, and made some tough decisions that led to this trip to the NFL’s title game. As Reid stood on the podium after lifting the Lamar Hunt Trophy, Chiefs fans chanted ‘Andy! Andy!’ ”
I concur. Go Andy!
Some say that Patrick Mahomes is the best QB in the NFL. Period. Mahomes is the reigning league MVP, and he’s leading his team to the Super Bowl in just his third year in the league. And the Kansas City Chiefs are headed to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. Wow. No pressure!
Quarterback honorable mentions go to several star quarterbacks, including first runner up Lamar Jackson, who had a phenomenal regular season, but now he’s home watching TV along with Deshaun Watson. Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees all had early playoff exits, and Dak Prescott and Jared Goff didn’t even make the playoffs this year. Go figure.
That leaves Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers star quarterback, in Super Bowl LIV.
But Garoppolo, while a steady, reliable QB, hasn’t risen to the ranks of super- stardom yet. Mahomes has. And in this year’s playoffs, he’s played lights out, especially when his team needed him most. The Chiefs were down by 20 to the Houston Texans last week in the NFL Playoffs Divisional round, yet Mahomes rallied his troops to come back from near death and pulled out a 51 – 31 victory that will not soon be forgotten. And the Chiefs were down 17 -7 to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game only to rally and win 35 – 24.
The AFC and NFC Championship Games featured the reigning Statefarm commercial QB’s, Mahomes in the AFC and Rodgers in the NFC. Even though they didn’t’ play head to head, a casual comparison reveals that Mahomes outmatched and out dueled and flat out outplayed Aaron Rodgers. The comparative level of play wasn’t even close. At one point, the 49ers were beatin’ up and beatin’ down the Packers 27 – 0. Yeash! The Packers scored some garbage time points just to make the final score a reasonably respectable 37 – 20.
Jimmy Garoppolo played well, but not as well as Mahomes. And the Chiefs and 49ers have solid defensive units, so the big game may well be won on the offensive side of the ball.
And so there you have it. Mahomes is at the peak of his game, and the Chiefs are playing like a true team. And good things happen when good teams play as a team. And from all appearances, both the Chiefs and 49ers are playing like there’s no tomorrow.
So my sister’s and brothers, let’s play as a team. Let’s all pull together and pray together and stay together, and leave the results to Heaven.
The Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC East after all. After being the pre-season favorite, and then falling off the map during the season, and then enduring multiple injuries along the way, the Eagles put together a late season march through their NFC East opponents and won four straight to finish 9-7.
It was improbable, and at more than one point it seemed impossible, but those plucky Birds pulled off a comeback for the ages. The Eagles turned their torrid season all the way around, and now they are in the playoffs for the third straight season. It took leadership and perseverance, and grit, and Fletcher Cox has all these, and some.
For many of us, 2019 was that kind of year. It began with high hopes and powerful promise, but along the way the wheels came off and I was left on the side of the road for dead. But that’s just when Heaven starts helping and God get’s going. God honors faith. God rewards faith. And God expects us to have strong faith to endure the tests and trials that face us.
So take it from me, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. So finish 2019 strong, and let’s begin 2020 with the faith to believe that we can conquer anything and everything that life may throw our way.
As for my Eagles, I pick them to go all the way! And why not, we’re underdogs again, just like 2017 when we won Super Bowl LII.
Fly Eagles fly!
They said Dallas was the better team. They said the Eagles didn’t stand a chance. And they said Wentz was overrated and all washed up. But the final score said the opposite. The final Score was Eagles 17, Dallas 9. In this game of arch NFC East Division rivals, the Eagles “D” held the No. 1 offense in the league to three field goals! Nuff said! This was an upset win for the ages, and the Eagles did it with backup, underdog players due to multiple injuries to numerous all pro starters. It was a great team win, a Christmas present from Santa, and a Christmas Miracle, all raped up in one.
It took prayer and faith, pleas for good fortune and fortitude from fearfulness. It took it all and a little more to win this game.
Now the Eagles just have to win the NFC East, right? Right! In my book, Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds, here’s how I describe this Eagles’ win, and every other upset win of epic proportions:
“In the World of Sports, there’s nothing like an upset win, a comeback from way back, and a complete turnaround. The same is true in life. In sports, we celebrate the underdogs, both the teams and the players who are at a distinct disadvantage and are expected to lose. Yet some way, somehow, these teams and players find a way triumph in spite of adversity.
Upsets, Comebacks, and Turnarounds looks back to those who have already overcome and looks ahead to those facing overwhelming obstacles yet to be overcome. This book examines the intersection of God and sports and the connection of sports and spirituality. It is dedicated to those in life not favored to win; to those voted least likely to succeed; and to those picked to finish dead last or not at all; in other words, the underdogs. The Bible is chock-full of unprecedented upset wins.
The Holy Writ is replete with remarkable, courageous comebacks. And scripture is saturated with stories of tremendous turnarounds. Leah, Ruth, Jonathan, Moses, and Elijah are just a few of the faithful who overcame overwhelming odds and were victorious. They found a way to believe God for, and experience, miracles. This is a telling of their side of the story. This book is a tribute to all of the biblical long-shots. to all those who “didn’t stand a chance.” Biblical stories of men and women of the faith are inspiration and motivation for us all. At one point in their lives, ordinary people just like you and me were spiritually empty, bereft of hope and brimming with despair. But God turned it around. He did it for them, He did it for me, and He can do the same for you too.”
Joe Burrow just won the Heisman Trophy. Thereby, Burrow proved that nice guys can, and do, finish first.
In his epic, record setting season and his emotional and heartwarming acceptance speech, Joe Burrow proved and pronounced three things;
First, you can beat the odds.
Second, you can rise from obscurity; and
Third, nice guys don’t have to finish last.
Burrow beat the odds. No one, and I mean NO ONE, had Joe Burrow as a Heisman Trophy finalist at the beginning of the 2019 season, much less the runaway winner. But Burrow led “LSU’s passing game that finished No. 116 in 2014, No. 106 in 2015, No. 101 in 2016, No. 84 in 2017 and No. 67 in 2018 sprang to No. 2 in 2019, largely through the mastery Burrow left strewn across storied American fields such as Texas, Alabama and Atlanta (against Georgia in the SEC championship game). Receiving yards went lavished on brilliant wideouts such as Ja’Marr Chase (1,498), Justin Jefferson (1,207) and Terrace Marshall Jr. (545).” ESPN
Burrow rose from the obscurity of Athens, Ohio, an impoverished rural county, to the national stage of instant stardom. Burrow was a backup quarterback at Ohio State, and then transferred to LSU, and now he’s the Heisman Trophy winner on the No. 1 Team in the nation favored to win the college national championship. Burrow led LSU “from 2,894 passing yards in 13 games in 2018, then ascended to 4,715 in 13 games so far in 2019. He threw 48 touchdown passes against six interceptions.” Incredible.
Talk about a rags to riches, Cinderella, Rocky Balboa story.
So we say congratulations to Joe Burrow. Thanks for reminding us that nice guys can indeed finish first.
PS: Now watch Burrows Heisman Trophy acceptance speech and try to hold it together. I dare you not to shed a tear.