Thou Shalt Console Thy Brother

alshon jeffrey drop

Alshon Jeffrey did not lose the game. His dropped pass near the 20 yard line in the waning moments of the Divisional Playoff game against New Orleans in the Super Dome certainly would have put the defending Super Bowl champions in position to score the winning touchdown, but it just didn’t happen this time.  Primed for another miraculous comeback victory, Nick Foles drove the Philadelphia Eagles into scoring range down just six points to the No. 1 seed Saints ahead of the two-minute warning.

Then, zap. The magic was gone. We all hoped that Saint Nick had one more trick up his sleeve and we all believed that he could pull just one more rabbit out of his hat, but his pass, which was right on target, was dropped by the Eagles best receiver.  “Foles zipped a pass to his top receiver, Alshon Jeffery. The ball slipped through the wideout’s hands and landed in the gut of Saints corner Marshon Lattimore. Drop. INT. Comeback bid evaporated.

The interception epitomized the Eagles’ offensive struggles the final 45 minutes of the 20-14 loss to the Saints. And Jeffrey felt like he had blown the game all by himself.

“I let my teammates down. I let the city of Philadelphia down. That’s on me. We’ll be back next year for sure,” Jeffery said in the locker room. “One play don’t define me. I mean, all of the greats, they have missed game-winning shots. … So it happens. It’s part of football. I just hated the way it happened in the playoffs and it was the final moment.”

It’s hard. I mean, it’s really hard because he’s so down,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson told reporters of his message to Jeffery. “But for me, it’s about staying positive. Listen, he’s made many, many big catches for us this season and he will continue to do that. He’s just got to keep his head up. Don’t let one play define you. It’s not who he is. He’s too good of a player. He’ll embrace it obviously and he’ll be better for it, but I told him to keep his head up and keep playing.”

The Eagles started the game scorching hot scoring back-to-back 75-plus-yard touchdown drives to open the game with a 14-0 lead to stun the Superdome fans. The Eagles gobbled up 151 yards and eight first downs in the opening quarter.

But then the momentum shifted and Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints scored 20 unanswered points to overcome their biggest deficit ever in post season play. There were a lot o plays between the first quarter and the fourth quarter that got away from Eagles, and that’s why Alshon shouldn’t shoulder the weight of this loss on his own.

But back to the play that said it all for the Eagles. Nick didn’t play all that well, and the defense, while holding Brees to 20 points, gave up too many big plays.  And Alshon Jeffrey did not lose the game. No he did not. The moral of the story is this: “one play and one day does not define you.” No it does not. And those of us who understand life and living know that a legacy is not built or destroyed in a day. Your legacy is built on the test of your character over time.

Keep your chin up. Hold you head high, and be an encouragement to someone who may have failed today but has the promise of destiny tomorrow.  Because failures are not final, and God has a plan for you, and he plans on using the good and the bad, the happy and the sad of your life to make you better.

So always remember, after a tough loss, the first commandment with promise is “thou shalt encourage thy brother.”

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You Just Gotta Believe!

The Philadelphia Eagles just came back from the dead and made the playoffs, and in so doing they showed us how to participate in our own resurrection (And by the way, Saint Nick lives!)

At one point in this post-Super Bowl, celebration season, the Philadelphia Eagles were a woeful 4-6. They had just lost to the New Orleans Saints 48 -7 and with that loss all expectation for the playoffs was taken away; the season was essentially and technically over. To add insult to injury, our star QB, Carson Wentz, bruised his back and a slew of other injuries ensued; painfully, the Eagles likelihood of making the playoffs went from bad to worse. Faithful Philly fans everywhere thought that the Eagles chances of getting into the Playoffs and defending their crown were slim to none. Or so it seemed.  Then it all turned around.

After losing to the Cowboys 29 – 23 in overtime, the Eagles played their best football of the season and finished on a three game winning streak. After being dead in the water, the Eagles blanked the Redskins 24-0 on the last day of the season and won this must win game on the road to finish 9 -7, earning a Wild Card entry into the playoffs. The Eagles survived mistakes and heartbrakes, and are a living testimony of how to overcome all kinds of adversity.

But to actually get into the playoffs, Philly needed help. And help (from Heaven?) came in the form of the Chicago Bears’ No. 1 Defense.  For the Eagles to make the playoffs this season the Minnesota Vikings had to lose and the Bears had to win. So what happened? The Vikings lost at home to those same Bears 24 – 10. Whew! 

Christianity teaches that death is not final. Not physically or spiritually. The central and cardinal doctrine of Christianity affirms that God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day. Without the resurrection, the apostle Paul declared, Christian preaching and belief are pointless and meaningless. Because of the resurrection of Christ, we too can experience resurrections. We too can get help from Heaven to turn death into life.

Your situation may seem dead, your marriage may stink the stench of death, your children may have disappeared and departed from you, your finances may have suffered a fatal blow, and even your future may seem listless and lifeless.  But there is always hope. Always.

The Eagles making the playoffs this season just goes to show that sports teach the hope of resurrection. Resurrection is help from above descending live a dove to bring life and love. And even though we may feel or even be dead, we must participate in our own resurrection, because help only comes when we have hope. In games and seasons when it seems as if all hope is lost, teams can speak life and determine they are not facing a dead end, and we can too. It’s not just about being positive; it’s a firm faith and a battleax belief that our lot in life is to overcome every dip and every drop that we may descend into.

The Eagles making the playoffs just goes to prove that it’s not over until it’s over. The Eagles just proved to us once again that all things are possible to those who believe. So be encouraged. It’s not over. On this New Year’s Eve, it’s just beginning.   

The Mystery of Momentum

Carson Wentz After Loss
Carson Wentz after the Eagles blew a 17 point Fourth Quarter lead at home to the Carolina Panthers on October 21, 2018

What’s wrong with Wentz? (And the rest of the Eagles, for that matter)  The Eagles lost momentum, and they lost the game because of it. Wentz played adequately and respectively for three-quarters, and then the bottom fell out.  With less than a minute left in regulation AT HOME, on the potentially game willing drive, Wentz forced a pass into double coverage to Alshon Jeffrey, a pass that should have been intercepted in the end zone, when a WIDE OPEN Wendell Smallwood was clearly within reach.  If you could see me right now, as I write this blog, I’m just shaking my head. I spoke to a dear friend Sunday night after the game, and he was still heated; we were HOLLERLING at each other about how bad the Eagles played compared to how good we were last year. 

The sportsman’s Bible says this: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for wins, for they shall be rewarded with victories.”

Ok, ok, ok, no that’s not exactly what the actual Bible says, but it’s close.  Hunger and thirst are perquisites for accomplishing and achieving our goals.  Last year, my Eagles were flying high; they had all of the right ingredients to win, and they won big. They had coaching, running, receiving and a defense that could actually stop the other team when necessary. And they had momentum, right up through the Super Bowl; through injuries and replacement players and a backup QB leading us to front and center in the football world. But that was then. And this is now.

Now, my Eagles couldn’t stop granny from robbing a bank with a Beebe gun. They can’t seem to stop the bleeding because they can’t even afford to pay attention. This Eagles team couldn’t stop payment on a check for $0 if their life depended on it. The Eagles had a 17 point lead over the Carolina Panthers in the FOURTH QUARTER and still lost! They allowed Cam Newton to drive downfield for touchdowns on three consecutive possessions, AND allowed a two point conversion. They allowed the Panthers to come back. When it mattered most, the Birds couldn’t hold onto the ball to sustain a drive to save their lives.  Yeash. 

So, here’s the question: will Wentz wither away or will he WILL himself and his teammates back to respectability and out of this abysmal mess?  It’s like my parents used to tell me when my sisters and I wanted something that we probably weren’t going to get; we’ll see. The Eagles were celebrating prematurely, and the Panthers saw it and seized “it” right from under their noses. 

So . . . , let’s learn the lesson. Don’t lose momentum. DON’T give your opponent the ball when they have the momentum. Don’t do it. Do whatever it takes to hold onto the ball and maintain possession, especially when they have the hot hand. Note to file, NEVER EVER give the ball back to the other team when they have the hot hand.

Momentum is energy and force and motion. It means to push and to drive forward no matter what. But momentum is a funny, tricky thing. Momentum is electric and elusive.  Momentum will spark your battery and spur your inner horses. You can’t really quantify it, but it’s tangible nonetheless.  Either you have it or you don’t. And when you have it, you protect it with your soul and you hang onto it for dear life; because you never want to lose it, or worse yet, give it away.  The irony is, you know when you have it, and you can barely fathom when you lose it. Because momentum is “it”, and you’ve got to have “it” to win.

Spiritually speaking, momentum lies in your heart.  The Bible says to “keep your heart with all diligence, for out it flow the issues of life.”

The Carolina Panthers couldn’t spell touchdown for three-quarters of football, and yet all of a sudden they seized the momentum from the Eagles. All of a sudden, they flipped the script. All of a sudden, they could drive down the field like it’s a walk in the park and punch it in. Seriously?  C’mon Man!  How’d they do it? They realized the mystery of momentum.

The Eagles Are Baaaaaaaaack!

Alshon Jeffery
Philadelphia Eagles Star Wide Receiver Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles, for the first time this season, looked like their 2017 selves Thursday night. They weren’t nearly perfect, but they led comfortably throughout what would eventually become a 34-13 pasting of the New York Giants at Giants Stadium, err, I mean MetLife Stadium. With the big win, the Eagles may well have saved the NFC East from becoming the NFC Least!

With the big win, Carson Wentz and the Eagles are baaaaaaaack! They’ve climbed back to .500, so now at 3-3, they can legitimately say that the are again the class of the NFC East. Things were looking kind of dicey there for a while, but the Super Bowl Champs are back; they’ve turned things around and straightened some things out, so let’s just hope they’re back to stay.

OK, so yes they beat the hapless, helpless New York Football Giants, so let’s not get carried away or get too ahead ourselves. No, they did NOT play perfect, championship level football. Yes, they looked better than they have since the Super Bowl, and no they can’t punch their ticket to Super Bowl LIII just yet. One win doesn’t erase the previous five weeks. The Eagles still have issues and still have an increasing number of injuries. But it had to feel good to get ahead early, expand the lead, and put an opponent away with rather ease.

It took until Week 6, but the Eagles finally played to expectations. The Eagles offense finally caught up to Carson Wentz in the road win, and with Fletcher Cox leading the way, the Eagles pass rush turned up the heat on Eli Manning. No, Eli is not the Eli of old, because this Eli is now old man Eli. He struggled all game, and that’s putting it kindly.

The only bright spot for the Giants and the only blemish for the Eagles is how the Birds let rookie sensation Saquon Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft. Barkley made like Red Grange out there, “The Galloping Ghost” who played for the Chicago Bears way back. Barkley ran the ball 13 times for 130 yards, catching it nine times for 99 yards, and zigging every time the Eagles zagged as he made Manning’s numbers look better than they truly were.

But enough about Eli Manning and the Giants already. Let’s get back to my Eagles, the defending Super Bowl Champs!

The win wasn’t exactly pretty or simple. The Eagles were playing on three days’ rest, they had to travel up the Jersey Turnpike, and the Giants have enough firepower to have produced the opposite result. But they caught a squad that’s reeling with an aging, ineffective quarterback. Jim Schwartz’s defense deserves credit for getting after Eli Manning, but the 37-year-old quarterback is all but done. The Giants will win some more games, and Manning might have some decent outings on paper, but he’s no longer capable of willing his team to victory. He doesn’t trust his arm to throw downfield and doesn’t have the necessary athleticism to extend plays in the pocket behind a leaky offensive line.

The 3-3 Eagles don’t have to worry about the Giants in the division. The Redskins (2-2) and Cowboys (2-3) are still clearly in the NFC East picture, but when the Eagles play as they did Thursday, with an elite quarterback firing on all cylinders, a suffocating defense with a ferocious pass rush and special teams that are mistake-free, there are few teams that can keep up.” http://www2.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/eagles-giants-carson-wentz-fletcher-cox-alshon-jeffery-what-we-learned-thursday-night-football-20181012.html

So let’s celebrate the win, but let’s not celebrate too long or too much. There’s still much work to do; there’s still too much at stake, as defending our title and defending our honor is still on the line.

And this is the same lesson all of the rest of us need to learn too.

Who Dat? Drew Brees Makes History as the Perfect Professional QB

Drew Brees Sets Record
October 8, 2018: Drew Brees Sets All Time NFL Passing Record at 71, 968,

 Drew Brees just made history. Drew Brees just set a new NFL passing record. Tonight on Monday Night Football, Brees surpassed Peyton Manning to become the all-time passing leader in NFL history.  He threw to eight different receivers and amassed 250 in one half of football to set the new record. And he threw to a wide open Tre’Quan Smith for 62 yards to go over the top with 71,968 yards passing . . .  and counting. You go boy!

So here’s to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, and to all of those faithful Saints fans screaming and hollering and chanting “Who Dat” at the Super Dome. We’re all so happy for Drew, as is the rest of the watching football world. He’s worked so hard and he deserves so much; he’s won Super Bowl XLIV in 2009, he’s a perennial Pro Bowler, and he’s on his way to Canton Ohio (the Hall of Fame), certainly on the first ballot.  Brees is absolutely deserving of all the accolades we can heap upon him, because he’s the perfect professional.  

So how about you? Are you watching history or making history?  In other words, are you a professional or an amature?  Do you bring your “A” game every game, night in and night out, or do you make excuses or point fingers or take plays off during your contract year because you don’t want to hurt your chances of getting a max contract? 

Let’s take a page from Drew Brees’ playbook: play hard, play smart, and play to win, every game.  Above all, love your family, and put them first.  These are the traits of a true champion and a perfect professional.  Oh, and one more thing – don’t chase records – let the records chase you.

What Would You Rather Have, A Good Start, Or A Good Finish?

Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes Is Having A Great Start

Patrick Lavon Mahomes II just taught us another lesson on the value of a good start. Ironically, this sophomore sensation had a bad start in the Sunday Night game against his arch rival. The Denver Broncos had a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter, but Patrick Mahomes pulled a rabbit out of his hat, threw a perfect third down pass with his left hand (he’s right handed) and got the first down that lead to the winning touchdown to win the game with time running out. What an increadible comeback.

So which is it? If you had to choose, which would it be? Do you need a good start or a good finish? Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (You Go Andy! We still love ya!) are 4-0 and look like they are shoe in’s for the Super Bowl. That is, this is what they look like NOW. And in case you’re wondering, the shout out is to Andy Reid, who couldn’t get it done with the Eagles in Philly, but I’m pulling for him in KC, especially with this Phenom called Patrick Mahomes.

So back to the question: A good start is not a bad thing. And a bad start is not a good thing, but it’s not the end of the world. While a good start is not a guarantee to anything, a bad finish may well destroy everything. Truth is, you really need both. Bad starts can be overcome, but bad finishes cannot. So you’ve got to win all the games you can while you can, because tomorrow, and tomorrow’s win, are not promised.

When you’re humble and hungry, as it appears this Mahomes kid is, you can take a good start and go from good to great. You can ride that momentum and take that mojo and make something happen! And that’s it: make something happen. Get off to a good start every day and every week and every month and ever year. Since you can’t control tomorrow, do all you can to win today.

So let’s all cheer for Patrick Mahomes. He’s playing lights out early on. Let’s see if this early sensation can lead to late season success.

So let’s all take one day, and one game, at a time, just like the hymn writer taught us to to.

One day at a time sweet Jesus

That’s all I’m asking from you.

Just give me the strength

To do everyday what I have to do.

Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus

And tomorrow may never be mine.

Lord help me today, show me the way

One day at a time.

Christy Lane

Note To Jameis Winston: Character Still Counts

jameis winston
Suspended for inappropriate condut, Jameis Winston is pondering His NFL Future

Who should start for the Tampa Bay Bucanners: Ryan “Fitzmagic” or Jameis Winston? That’s the question.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has been dubbed Ryan “Fitzmagic” because this journeyman quarterback, who’s played on seven – count ‘em – seven NFL teams, has taken Jameis Winston’s job and is running with it. Fitzpatrick was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft and has also played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, and New York Jets. Fitzpatrick played college football at Harvard and was the first quarterback in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a career.

 And now Fitzpatrick has thrown for 400 yards in each of the first three games of the season even though he struggled in the Bucs’ 30-27 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. But the Bucs were down 30-10 at halftime, and they cut the deficit to just three. It wasn’t a win but it was a moral victory. Fitzpatrick competed when the game was seemingly over, and almost overcame all of his early mistakes.

As for the Buccaneers star quarterback, Jameis Winston, he was suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season as the NFL said its investigation found the he inappropriately touched a female Uber driver in March 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

In a statement, the NFL said Winston violated the league’s personal conduct policy “by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent”  and the statement said  that “Disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate.” Winston’s suspension is without pay and he didn’t appeal.

The NFL said in its statement that Winston is required to obtain a clinical evaluation and fully cooperate with any recommended therapeutic intervention program. The league said if Winston doesn’t comply, it could result in further discipline. The NFL also said another violation of the personal conduct policy will result in more substantial discipline, including a potential ban according to Jenna Laine, an ESPN Staff Writer.

While Winston worked hard during his suspension, he is not guaranteed to return to the starting lineup. Two events have altered the landscape since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the routine decision to exercise their 2019 contract option for quarterback Jameis Winston. The NFL’s three-game suspension of Winston was one. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s record-setting run of three consecutive 400-yard passing games during Winston’s suspension is the other.

“Fitzmagic” has put up some astronomical numbers. In Weeks 1 and 2, Fitzpatrick led the NFL with 819 passing yards, throwing eight touchdowns and tacking on a ninth score with his legs, leading the Bucs to wins over the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles.

And so, once again, the question is this: is Winston worth it? Yes Winston is a phenomenal talent, but talent can only take you so far. In fact, talent can’t take you to the top because it’s actually your character that makes you. The character of Jameis Winston has caused us to rethink the value of his talent, because the character of Jameis Winston has been called into question more than once.

Character still counts, and you are who you are, despite, not because of, your talent. And your actions still speak louder than your words —  and your talent.