Did You See The Fight? (At The Lakers Game)

Brandon-Ingram-Rajon-Rondo-Chris-Paul

Fights are indicative of tension and boiled over hostility. But they should have  no place in the course of a game or contest, outside of the boxing ring, of course. They do but they shouldn’t.  At the Lakers home opener last weekend, Rajon Rondo, Brandaon Ingram and Chris Paul were involved an ugly, unecessary brawl that left players and fans alike whispering and wondering, “what in world is going on?” 

The lecture here is short and to the point: tempers and tensions may flare, but it’s the lesson of life to let cooler heads prevail. Hats off to LeBron James for jumping in and going to his OPPONENT, but friend, Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets, to help break up the fight.

Good for you LeBron, good for you.  Becasue blessed are the peachmakers.

Here’s the skinny from ESPN staff writer Adrian Wojnarowski :

“The NBA suspended Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (four games), guard Rajon Rondo(three games) and Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul (two games), all without pay, for their roles in a fourth-quarter fight on Saturday night in Los Angeles.

“Ingram has been suspended for aggressively returning to and escalating the altercation and throwing a punch in the direction of Paul, confronting a game official in a hostile manner, and instigating the overall incident by shoving Rockets guard James Harden,” the league said in a statement. “Rondo has been suspended for instigating a physical altercation with, and spitting and throwing multiple punches at, Paul. Paul has been suspended for poking at and making contact with the face of Rondo, and throwing multiple punches at him.”

Rondo threw a punch at Paul after Paul poked a finger into his face. Once Rondo and Paul’s altercation occurred, Ingram sprinted from half court and threw a punch of his own in the direction of Paul and PJ Tucker that did not land cleanly.” http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/25047465/multiple-suspensions-lakers-rockets-scuffle 

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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.

Should We Pity Poor, Winless Nebraska?

Nebraska Coach Scott Frost
Despite the Historic 0-6 Start, Nebraska Head Coach Scott Frost Should Keep Looking Up

The  University of Nebraska was once a college football power.  Under Tom Osborne from 1973 to 1997, the Cornhuskers went an astounding 255 – 49–3,  for a winning percentage of 0.836. Osborne subsequently became Nebraska’s longest-tenured coach, ending with the fourth-highest winning percentage in major college football history. Osborne never won fewer than nine games and secured 13 conference titles in his 25 seasons. And for those interested in ancient college football history, before Osborne, there was head coach Bob Devaney.

Bob Devaney lead Nebraska to a 101–20–2 record, with a 0.829 winning percentage from 1962 to 1972.  Delaney brought about an immediate turnaround in the fortunes of Nebraska football. He led Nebraska to a 9–2 record in his first season, which was capped by the school’s first bowl win, against Miami in the 1962 Gotham Bowl.  Wow. Talk about winners. Nebraska could surely use Osborne or Devaney right about now.

Now, the once mighty and proud Nebraska football program has fallen on hard times. Most recently, The Cornhuskers blew a ten point margin and fell to Northwestern, 34 -21, after having a 31-21 fourth quarter lead. A Northwestern field goal cut the lead to 31-24 with about two minutes left in the game. Northwestern would then get the ball back and marched 99 yards with zero time-outs for a game tying touchdown that sent it to overtime. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable, especially for a team that was 0 -5 and searching desperately for its first win.

In that oh so painful loss to Northwestern, Nebraska had the ball first in the extra period. The drive came to a fourth and one, and then a nightmare for Huskers fans. A botched snap and QB Martinez was forced to scramble; he launched one for the endzone and it was intercepted. Northwestern got the ball and got into position to allow kicker Drew Lauckenbaugh to make a 37 yard field goal to give Northwestern the stunning 34-31 win.

Last week, after Nebraska lost to Michigan, Head coach Scott Frost told his players in the locker room at Michigan Stadium that “things can’t get any worse”, and their 56-10 loss to No. 19 Michigan could serve as a “watershed moment” for the program in its first year with a new coaching staff. When they were 0 -5, the Nebraska coach believed that the Cornhuskers had reached the bottom.

But then the bottom fell out, and they lost this heartbreaker to Northwestern to fall fo 0 – 6 for the first time in school history. It’s the worst start EVER for this storied football program.

Incredible. Just incredible. So, are we to feel sorry and compassionate for the Cornhuskers? Some say yes, but most, I surmise, would say no. They had their heyday, and now the mantle for winning big in college football has moved on the Southeastern Conference. The SEC touts such powerhouse schools such as Alabama, LSU, Florida and Georgia, just to name a few.  Ohio State and Michigan, two bragadocious, Big Ten schools, are still powers, so why not Nebraska? It’s a thousand things, none of which can be fixed in an instant. 

So let’s encourage Nebraska.  And let’s encourage all of our friends who are going through a tough time. Things will get better. Things HAVE to get better, right? They have to; they just have to.  Becasue life is like sports and sports are like life.  Trouble don’t last always. 

And always remenber; “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

 

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.

Aggressive Faith: How To Come Back From Way Back

Stanford Coach David Shaw
Stanford Coach David Shaw Says You Just Gotta Believe

 

We love college football. And the only thing we love more than college football is college basketball and March Madness. But it’s the first full day of Fall 2018, and it’s football weather, so we’re in for upsets, comebacks and turnarounds, college football style.

In the Stanford – Oregon game — played in Eugene Oregon, mind you – with the score 24 -7, Ducks, Oregon running back Jaylon Redd appeared to have scored a touchdown, but he was later ruled to go out-of-bounds just inside the 1-yard line. He hit the pylon, and the pylon is out of bounds. It is?  Who knew? Anyway, no big deal, right? The way the Ducks were playing, they were destined to punch it in on the next play and take a seemingly insurmountable 31-7 lead in the first half. Right?  Wrong.

Wouldn’t ya know it, a bad snap sailed over Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert’s head. Stanford’s Joey Alfieri scooped it up and ran 80 yards for a touchdown. All of a sudden, a 14-point swing has the Cardinal down by just 10 points. After the game, Coach David Shaw called it the turning point of the game. And then, the Ducks go three and out, and the next time Stanford touches the ball, they go right down the field like it’s a walk in the park and they get another touchdown. That made the score 24 -21 at half-time, when it could have been 31 -7, Ducks.  Unbelievable.

And the final score? Stanford 38, Oregon 31, OT. Talk about a comeback for the ages.

The Stanford Cardinal (Cardinal is singular, mind you – but don’t ask) is ranked No. 7 in the nation. No. 7!  But they sure didn’t look like it in the early going, as Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert picked Stanford apart. It looked like a shooting gallery. It was like shootin’ ducks in a barrel – get it? Ha ha.  Anyway, Stanford couldn’t do anything right, and Oregon seemingly couldn’t do anything wrong. But that all changed in an instant. And as we live and breathe, we also believe that what’s going wrong can go right, if we only put feet to our faith.

After the miraculous comeback, Stanford Coach David Shaw said this:

 

We talk so much about believing. And not just about believing, but believing in the work and the effort and believing in the passion that we have for each other.

Wow. Coach Shaw sounds like a preacher! And he’s right. He’s exactly right. If you can believe it, you can achieve it. But you first have to believe; you must have faith.  And then you must put feet to your faith. We need not just talk about believing; we need to put our faith in action put our confidence in God in motion and do more than just believe. And that’s exactly what Stanford did.

Stanford came back from way back because they hung in there. Stanford was aggressive in the second half, and took advantage of every opportunity that came their way. And that’s what we need to do. We need to have aggressive faith. When we’re down, we should never feel like were out.

In this season, many of us are praying for revival. As we pray for a revival in the land, we should also pray for a revival in our souls. We should ask God to give us a personal revival. And as we pray, we should sing this great hymn by W. P. Mackay:

Hallelujah, thine the glory!

Hallelujah, Amen!

Hallelujah, thine the glory!

Revive us again.

 

 

 

Note to Vonte Davis: “Don’t Quit Halfway Through”

 

Vontae Davis
Vontae Davis Walks Out and Walks Away

Vontae Davis quit halfway through.  That’s right. A PROFESSIONAL NFL football player actually played one half of a game, took a look around him, and realized how bad the situation was, and, instead of pledging to help make it better, he quit. Forget this retirement rhetoric; that’s garbage. Dude quit.  Vontae Davis called it quits at halftime, when his Bills were losing 28-6 to the Chargers.  The final score was 31 – 20.

For the first time in NFL history, a player, namely the Buffalo Bills’ cornerback Vontae Davis, called it a career and retired at halftime. With the Bills looking like the worst team in the NFL, per CBS Sports, this sudden change to the team’s roster is unlikely to make things better.  

The veteran defensive back  pulled the most incredible exit in NFL history yesterday when he decided at halftime that he was calling it a career. He pulled himself out of the game,  put on his street clothes, walked out of the stadium and decided to retire, right there. This is one of the Bills’ starting cornerbacks!  The 30-year-old cornerback, a first-round pick in 2009, spent a majority of his NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts. He played in 121 games and finishes his career with 22 interceptions and 98 pass deflections. 

So let’s analyze the situation for a minute: Yes the Bills stink. In the season opener on Sunday, September 9, 2018, the Baltimore Ravens dominated the game and slaughtered the Bills with a final score of 47 to 3.  That’s beyond bad. And no, you don’t get better in an instant. But yes, the Bills were a playoff team last year. But no, you don’t quit halfway through. It’s that simple. It’s like cheating, or accusing someone of cheating that isn’t cheating. You don’t. You just don’t. 

Davis said later that he came to the realization during the first half that he didn’t belong on an NFL football field any longer and that he should just retire. (Buffalo was down 28–6, so maybe a few other players should have had the same epiphany.) He said he didn’t mean to disrespect his teammates but they clearly still felt disrespected.

But don’t we teach our children not to give up and not to give in? Don’t we teach our boys and girls to be team players and not to be selfish? Aren’t we supposed to model before the next generation how to gut it out and suck it up? 

Incredibly, some are defending Davis for what he did. Why? Because this is a me first generation. This is an “I before we, me before you” and everybody else society that doesn’t give a hoot about how their actions affect anyone else.  And it’s said. It’s all so, so said.

 Here’s what Mr. Davis had to say for himself:

“This isn’t how I pictured retiring from the NFL,” Davis said, via NFL network. “But in my 10th NFL season, I have been doing what my body has been programmed to do: get ready to play on game day. I’ve endured multiple surgeries and played through many different injuries throughout my career and, over the last few weeks, this was the latest physical challenge.”

“I meant no disrespect to my teammates and coaches. But I hold myself to a standard. Mentally, I always expect myself to play at a high level,” Davis said, via NFL network. “But physically, I know today that isn’t possible and I had an honest moment with myself. While I was on the field, I just didn’t feel right, and I told the coaches, ‘I’m not feeling myself’.”

So you quit at halftime? Seriously?  He signed a one year deal with the Bills who weren’t that bad last year. But that was then, and this is now.  We’ve all learned that decisions should not be made on a whim or in the heat of the moment. Davis’s snap decision in the “now” moment certainly could be rethought or, even rescinded. But based on his statement, it doesn’t look like that will be the case. 

Mr. Davis went out and he put a bad taste in a lot of fans and players mouths.  And that’s just not how one should want to be remembered.

Motivation for Moving Forward — Can The Eagles Repeat? (A.K.A., When Will Wentz Be Back?)

 

Eagles Super Bowl Banner
Eagles’ Super Bowl LII Banner

 

That’s the question.  But actually, that’s not the real question. The real question is this: do the Eagles have the gumption and the gusto, the moxie and the mettle to repeat as Super Bowl Champions? And the answer is absolutely, unequivocally, undeniably yes.  The Eagles certainly CAN repeat. And since one good question always deserves another, the “B” part of this multiple choice test is this: WILL they repeat? Will the Eagles put it all together and win it all again? Will this dream team come together and will they keep it together so that it all stays together like last year’s magical season to produce back to back Super Bowl victories?  

Or will it all fall apart?

Carson Wentz will be back. Soon. Thank God. As much as we love and adore our beloved Nick Foles, Wentz has got to come back, ASAP. Yes we’re thankful to Nick for stepping in and stepping up and leading the charge up the playoff hill to the Super Bowl Summit. But in our heart of hearts we know that Nick is, and always will be, dare I say, “just a backup?” I know that sounds cold and cruel, but we have to face the fact that Nick played over his head in the playoffs last year — and we love him for it. But Wentz is the man. Wentz is our guy.

Truth be told, in the pre-season, Foles looked bad, really bad.  (And as Jack Nicholson once said “You can’t handle the Truth!) But we must. Foles did just enough in the season opener to save himself and his team from an opening night nightmare. If it wasn’t for the infamous Eagle “D,” we may well have lost to the pitiful looking Atlanta Falcons AT HOME on the night we raised, or unveiled, our Super Bowl banner. (I like seeing a banner raised, don’t you?) 

Here’s what one sports writer had to say about the Eagles/Falcons season opener:

“Let the record show that if it wasn’t for Philadelphia’s defense stepping up their game when the team needed it the most, chances are Atlanta would have won this game in a big way, and it wouldn’t have even been close. Whether it was preventing the Falcons from scoring on a goal-line stand during the first drive of the game to holding them to 12 points in general, the Eagles’ defense showed early signs of being a top unit once again during the 2018 season.

When looking at all of the weapons Matt Ryan has to work with from Julio Jones to Devonta Freeman, the Falcons never make it easy for any opponent. And even though Jones ended up getting his 10 catches for 169 yards to lead all receivers in the game, at least the Eagles were able to keep him out of the end zone, including times when it mattered the most towards the end of the game.

The fact that Atlanta only recorded one touchdown the entire game despite numerous opportunities deep in Philadelphia territory shows how special of a unit Jim Schwartz has on this team. By showing they can keep a high-powered offense in the Falcons in check, the Eagles’ defense will use this as motivation moving forward.” https://section215.com/2018/09/07/philadelphia-eagles-4-takeaways-from-win-over-atlanta-falcons-week-1/

 And that’s the message: we all need motivation for moving forward. 

And so the question for you and me is this: can we use the triumphs of yesterday as motivation for moving forward? Can we repeat the achievements and accomplishments of yesterday and move forward to notch more victories today and tomorrow? We certainly can, but as with the Eagles, the question is not can we, but will we?

Do we have the will to forge a way forward against the odds? Do we have the will to endure hardness, as good soldiers? Do we have the will to believe God for new mercies? And do we have the wherewithal to weather the howling wintery winds of life and the sometimes cold, cutting comments of friends and foes alike? Do we have what it takes to withstand the onslaught of the enemy and to continue to fight the good fight of faith? With the help of Heaven we can.

And by God’s grace we will.