Don’t Press The Panic Button

Nick Foles down

Here’s some sage advice for all those out there who watched the Philadelphia Eagles play and win Super Bowl LII just a few short months ago. If you haven’t seen the Eagles play since the Super Bowl, and if you tuned in last night for the first time since that miracle victory to watch the Super Bowl Champions, you watched in horror as the Eagles lost to the Cleveland Browns in a preseason matchup. The final score: 5-0. Hello? Are you still there? Yes, I said FIVE nothing. Yes the Eagles may be getting off to a rough start, but don’t press the panic button.

Please note that I said the Cleveland Browns, not the Cleveland Indians. If the Phillies lost to the Indians in a BASEBALL game, and you told me that we lost to them 5-0, I’d say, bummer. But this was a professional, NFL FOOTBALL game. And the Eagles played those same Cleveland Browns who haven’t won a game since forever ago. That’s right. The winning team scored a whopping five points. And the Eagles were not the winning team.

What’s that? You don’t watch preseason football? Well, neither did I until the Eagles won the Super Bowl, baby! And I was looking for that Super Bowl bump to carry us right to Super Bowl LIII in the ATL, Hot-lanta.

What’s that? This 2018 Eagles team is NOT nor nowhere near like 2017 Super Bowl team? They’re not? That’s a rhetorical question, because if you watched most of the first half, like I did, you’d be ready to press the panic button. But don’t do it. Don’t press the panic button – just yet.

The 2017 Eagles started the season with Carson Wentz, and they went 2-2 in the preseason and then began the season by going on a tear – they were 10 -1 and on their way to the Super bowl long before we were even daring to dream about a Super Bowl appearance, much less a superlative Super Bowl Victory.

But that was then. And this is now. And now, while everyone says that the 2018 Eagles are BETTER (at least on paper) than the 2017 Eagles, it doesn’t look that way in real life. In real-time, my Iggles are looking like they still suffer from a post-Super Bowl slump. And at the bottom of the heap was our dear, darling Nick Foles.

Yes Nick Foles. Last night Nick Foles, the MVP of Super Bowl LII, against Cleveland, mind you, looked like a red-shirt rookie staring into a pair of high beams. In one particularly dismal stretch, Foles stumbled over his own two feet  and fell in the end zone committing a safety, was sacked and fumbled, and for an encore, he threw interceptions on back-to-back possessions. But don’t press the panic button.

Truth be told, Super Bowl champions aren’t shoe-ins to repeat the following season. Yet all of Philly is hoping and praying that our Birds do it again. But the way they look now, we’ll need another miracle to pull off another miracle.

As believers, we are not to panic. We aren’t supposed to be anxious, we’re not supposed to worry, and God told us not to fear and not to fret? Why? Because God’s got in all in control. He’s got the whole world in his hand, and he’s got you and me, brother in His hand. In other words, in scripture after scripture, we’re admonished to walk by faith, to trust God, and, yes, in my translation, not to press the panic button.

The disciples were in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus was fast asleep down in the hold. A storm arose, the winds were whiping and the boat was tripping. It was a high and stormy gale. And so the disciples pressed the panic button. But when Jesus woke up, he chastised them for fearing, and spoke to the sea and said, “Peace, be still.”

And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? Mark 4:39-41, KJV

Whether it’s watching your team get hammered in a preseason football game or struggling to believe the promises of God, don’t press the panic button. Whether you’re going through a tough test on the job or waiting for your miracle, don’t press the panic button. I fact, here’s what we all should do instead; have faith in God. Remember, whatever you’re going through . . .

don’t press the panic button.

Is Baker Mayfield The Answer to the Cleveland Browns’ Question?

Baker Mayfield is the embodiment of faith and hope and love for the game that Cleveland Browns fans have everywhere. At least some think he is. He’s a risk and a gamble and a wild card and a wild one as the Browns are going out on a limb and betting the farm on a hothead who’s got a hot arm who hopefully can get on a hot streak. We’ll all have to just wait and see how it turns out because right now he’s just numbers on paper. Here’s what an ESPN staff writer had to say about Mayfield being the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft:

Pat McManamon

ESPN Staff Writer

 

“The Cleveland Browns surprised the NFL world by making quarterback Baker Mayfield the first overall pick in the draft Thursday night.

The Browns has been expected to take a quarterback and had insisted Mayfield was under consideration through the pre-draft process. Most speculation still centered on USC’s Sam Darnold and Wyoming’s Josh Allen, but momentum started to build in the last few days that the Browns favored Mayfield.

Cleveland also had the fourth pick Thursday and used it to select Denzel Ward, a cornerback back from Ohio State.

Mayfield, who had a stellar college career at Oklahoma but also made headlines with his behavior on and off the field, will be tasked with turning around a Browns team that went 0-16 last season.

Mayfield joins a roster that has Tyrod Taylor as the starting quarterback and Drew Stanton as the backup. The Browns hope to play Taylor this season, allowing Mayfield time to learn and grow. Mayfield, though, said at the scouting combine he would never “settle” for a backup role.

The Browns have not made the playoffs since 2002, which is the longest active drought in the NFL. Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Browns have had 28 different starting quarterbacks — the most in the league during that span.

Baker Mayfield will be tasked with turning around a Browns franchise coming off an 0-16 season in 2017. Harry How/Getty Images

Mayfield led FBS with a 70.5 completion percentage in 2017, and he set a single-season record by averaging 11.5 yards per attempt. He threw for 4,627 yards with 43 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

But Mayfield also garnered negative attention in recent years for his on-field antics, which included making an inappropriate gesture toward Kansas’ sideline and for planting Oklahoma’s flag on Ohio State’s logo at the 50-yard line after the Sooners’ victory over the Buckeyes. And if that wasn’t enough, on top of all that, Mayfield also was arrested last year in Arkansas on charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest. He reached a plea deal last June and paid fines for several of the charges.

Throughout the draft process, the Browns said they felt Mayfield had admitted to mistakes and they were behind him. Browns general manager John Dorsey even joked with Mayfield at the team’s combine interview, asking how he liked food trucks, a reference to the February 2017 arrest that took place near food trucks.

Mayfield, who is from Austin, Texas, transferred from Texas Tech to Oklahoma after his freshman season. During his college career, he threw for 14,607 yards and had 131 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions. He also rushed for 21 TDs and caught another during his college career.”

What’s Next For RGIII? — Plan B

RGII Released

What a sad day for RGIII fans, worldwide. Anywhere and everywhere there are fans of this Heisman Trophy winner, they’re all taking time to pout and pine and ache and anguish over this once prime and prized QB who tore it up at Baylor, had one good year in the NFL with the Redskins, but hasn’t been able to find his way since.

Here’s the black and white, bottom line:

Robert Griffin III will be a free agent again, as the Cleveland Browns released the injury-plagued quarterback on Friday. Too bad, so sad.

The Browns gave Griffin a chance to revive his career after he was released by the Washington Redskins following the 2015 season. Cleveland named him the Week 1 starter in 2016, and he struggled in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Late in that game, Griffin broke the coracoid process in his left collarbone, an injury that sidelined him for 11 games. Though he played better in four games at the end of the season, he admitted his injury had not fully healed.

The Browns’ move comes after they traded with the Houston Texans for quarterback Brock Osweiler on Thursday, though league sources have told ESPN that Cleveland is likely to trade or release Osweiler before the 2017 season. But let’s get back to RGIII.

I’ve been a faithful fan of Robert Griffin III from the start. I’ve pulled for him and prayed for him and cheered for him and jeered at him, but it’s all because I like him. I do. Even in his arrogance and overconfidence (“I’m the best QB in the NFL” — really?),  I’ve tried to be there for him (like I could actually help him, right?) But I did try. And he did too. From where I sit, I believe he stood a chance. Unfortunately, he had hope but he did not have the help that he really needed. And so it appears that it just wasn’t meant to be.

RGIII’s story is a narrative reminiscent of another Heisman trophy winner who just couldn’t make it in the pros: Tim Tebow. Their stories are eerily similar.  They were great standup, standout QB’s in college, but this pro thing just didn’t seem to fit. Why didn’t they succeed as we – and they- had hoped and dreamed they would? Why do teams love them and then loath them? And why do we delight ourselves in their rise and yet disassociate ourselves with their fall?

It sounds like life. You have to believe, in God first, and then in yourself, regardless of who doesn’t. Now Tebow is trying out for the New York Mets. Seriously. Maybe RGIII can reinvent himself and find a path to his ultimate purpose. And the same goes for us when Plan A hits a snag and blows a tire or fizzles out or just doesn’t work out.

Because you always need a Plan B.

Why Philly Fans Are On The Wentz Wagon

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The Cleveland Browns TRADED their No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to the Philadelphia Eagles, enabling the Eagles to draft Carson Wentz. THANK YOU CLEVELAND! In effect, the Browns said we don’t need some whiz kid called Carson Wentz. Ooops.  And this just in: word on the street is that the Browns fired their recruiters for this major gaff. 

As for the No. 1 Pick, the Rams, who also considered Wentz but passed on him, selected Jared Goff, allowing the Eagles to snatch Wentz. And hopefully, the rest will be history.

This week, the winless Browns will be on their third starting quarterback of this season, with rookie Cody Kessler set to follow Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown. Kessler becomes the franchise’s 26th different starter at the position since 1999. With RGII hurt (again),” an NFL truism is on its way to being reinforced: whatever the Browns think about a quarterback, believe the opposite.” So says Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

And so all of the Philly faithful owes its now promising football future to the Rams and, most importantly, to the Cleveland Browns. And don’t forget the Vikings. Yes Bradford fared well for his new team in his first game against the Packers, but I’ll take Wentz over Bradford any day.  

So why are we jumping on the Wentz Wagon?

Wentz is ahead of the curve and the pack and the field and all early expectations. If you told me that we’d be 2-0 and looking this good with a relatively unknown rookie QB a month ago, I’d‘ve told you to stop sniffing the super glue.

According to ESPN, Wentz is the fifth rookie quarterback since the merger to start and win the first two games of his team’s season, joining John Elway, Ryan Leaf, Mark Sanchez and Joe Flacco. Elway is a Hall of Famer. He and Flacco were Super Bowl MVPs. But Leaf became regarded as one of the sport’s all-time draft busts and Sanchez has not exactly been a star.

So the course of Wentz’s career has not been determined, no matter how promising the beginning has been. Yet you’d certainly rather be the Eagles, with Wentz, than the Browns, without Wentz, at this point. The Browns traded the No. 2 pick to the Eagles, apparently unconvinced of Wentz’s prospects to become an NFL franchise quarterback. Too bad. So sad.

So the next time someone passes on you and passes over you and you are picked by someone else and land somewhere else, just remember Carson Wentz. If you’re a believer and you believe in miracle finishes (and miracle starts!), just remember that God knows just how to place you and displace others so that you are situated just where you need to be to succeed and be victorious.

RGIII Is Traded to Cleveland: a.k.a., Do You Believe In Resurrections?

AP REDSKINS BROWNS FOOTBALL S FBN USA OH
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III kneels on the sideline during an NFL preseason football game against the Cleveland Browns, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, in Cleveland. (How Ironic is this pic?)

Here’s where sports and spirituality collide. Here’s where we split hairs between what’s carnal and what’s sacred. And here’s where I can defend the combination of God and sports all day. Not only do I believe in The Resurrection, but I believe in resurrections, in sports and in life, and I hope you do too. RGIII needs a rousing, riveting, reviving resurrection right about now. And I hope he gets one.

Robert Griffin, III, a.k.a. RGIII, just got traded from the Washington Redskins to the Cleveland Browns. That’s right – the Cleveland Browns. And lest you lament that he could languish and loaf and loiter in football La La Land, a.k.a. Cleveland, he could be trade bait for the upcoming NFL Draft, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First things first. RGIII is headed to another team and that means he has another chance at another dream.

Despite the Browns’ well-documented history of subpar play under center, there is a sense of optimism in Ohio this spring with the arrival of new head coach Hue Jackson, who is widely known as a quarterback savant. He has extensive experience developing quarterbacks, most notably with the recent work he’s done with Andy Dalton in Cincinnati and Joe Flacco in Baltimore. And now there’s hope he can resurrect RGIII’s career as well.

I’ve blogged about my man RGIII a few times here before because I like him. I do. (https://godandsports.net/2015/09/02/another-one-bites-the-dust-a-k-a-the-rise-and-fall-of-rgiii-in-dc/https://godandsports.net/2013/11/09/dont-beat-yourself/ –  https://godandsports.net/2013/08/24/rgiii-a-life-changing-story/)  But I don’t like how he’s been treated or how he’s been cheated or how he looks defeated. So I hope that he bounces back and comes back and even storms back from way back to fare well in the dungeon and dunghill of the NFL.  

And I hope that he proves all of the doubters wrong. We all have detractors and dissenters and disparagers and disbelievers. What else is new? What we all need to do is to Diss them and decide to disappoint them. Yes he needs to be stronger in the pocket and yes he needs to learn how to get rid of the football faster and yes he needs to learn how not take a hit and yes he needs to work on a whole lot of things, but who doesn’t? Don’t we all need a resurrection?

So here’s to RGIII and to the Cleveland Browns. Because in sports, anything is possible if you just believe.

Johnny Manziel: An Accident Waiting To Happen?

johnny-manziel

Ever seen a train wreck or a multi-car accident? How about one involving an athlete? I mean one without a train and without cars. This one has skid marks all over the field and all over the railways and roadways leading to the stadium. That’s the picture of Johnny “Football” Manziel.

Manziel has been unable to stay out of trouble since the Browns selected him in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. According to some sources, his father and ex-girlfriend and former agent have all expressed and voiced and registered concerns about the party-hardy Heisman Trophy winner.

“I truly believe if they can’t get him help, he won’t live to see his 24th birthday,” Paul Manziel told The Dallas Morning News. That’s Manziel’s dad.

In October, Avon (Ohio) police pulled over Manziel after an altercation with Coleen Crowley, Manziel’s ex-girlfriend. She told police that Manziel “hit me a couple times” after she threw his wallet out of the car window. She declined to press charges and Manziel denied hitting her.

In late January, Crowley said Manziel acted like he was on drugs but not intoxicated during a January 29th incident, according to the police report. He also allegedly dragged her by her hair, forced her into a car and told her to “shut up or I’ll kill us both,” WFAA-TV (Channel 8) reported, citing unnamed sources.

And in early January, quarterback Johnny Manziel was cited for driving with expired license plates last weekend. According to police in North Olmsted, Ohio, Manziel was stopped at 8:28 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2016, while driving on Interstate 480. 

Then, NFL player’s agent Erik Burkhardt said Friday that he’d dropped Manziel as a client “after several emotional and very personal discussions with his family, his doctors and (Manziel) himself.” Burkhardt went on to say that 

Though I will remain a friend and Johnny supporter, and he knows that I have worked tirelessly to arrange a number of professional options for him to continue to pursue, it has become painfully obvious that his future rests solely in his own hands … His family and I have gone to great lengths to outline the steps we feel he must take to get his life in order . . . Accountability is the foundation of any relationship, and without it, the function of my work is counterproductive.

So who do we believe? Who should we believe? The kid won the Heisman, for crying out loud. And yet his performance on the field and his behavior off the field aren’t laudable or commendable but instead are pitiful and contemptible. Manziel has a long list of unworthy, untoward actions not worth any trophy or award, and rumor has it that he will be cut from his current team, the Cleveland Browns in March.

But there’s always hope, right?

So who wants him now? Who would want him now? Reportedly Dallas does, but that remains to be seen. And so the lesson is clear: Manziel needs to shape up, or ship out. And if any of us acts contrary to any awards or accolades that we may acquire, that goes for us too.

“Johnny Football:” Don’t Believe The Hype

Manziel_Selected_ByBrowns_At_No_22

Jonathan Paul Manziel is only 6.0 feet tall, a tad on the diminutive side for a quarterback, and, from the looks of his performance so far, he may have an equally stunt NFL career. A bold, blatant, brazen statement, perhaps? Maybe not. Pre-Season Football is like going to the dentist; we all know it’s necessary, but none of us want to go. So do you put any weight or stock, credence or confidence in the play of players during a preseason game?

Jonathan “Johnny Football” Manziel won the Heisman Trophy in 2012 as a freshman at Texas A&M and by all accounts, he was the next Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Tom Brady combined. And he was only a FRESHMAN! According to most, the media made Manziel more than he maybe was meant to be. The media gave Manziel the moniker “Johnny Football” and this title stuck, and it has him stuck trying to measure up to all of the animation and anticipation.

Johnny Football is having trouble playing down and living up to all of the hype. Hype, the noun, is defined this way: “exaggerated publicity or hoopla,” and can mean “a swindle, deception, or trick.” Hype, the verb, means “to create interest in by flamboyant or dramatic methods; to promote or publicize showily; to intensify by advertising, promotion, or publicity, or by ingenious or questionable claims or methods.” In other words, hype is “created” or drummed up, and is usually false and fraudulent.

All of the hype surrounding Manziel’s entry into the NFL has overshadowed his actual ability to perform at the next level. He played wonderfully for Texas A&M last year, but terribly last Monday night against the Washington Redskins, going 7-16 for 65 yards, with 3 sacks. Since he didn’t exactly light it up, and he’s not exactly meeting expectations, he will not be the starter for the Browns come September.

And if his poor performance wasn’t enough, for an encore, Manziel raised his middle finger toward the opponents’ bench as he returned to the huddle late in the third quarter of Monday night’s 24-23 loss. Truth be told, it was one of the few times a Browns QB actually found his intended target. “It does not sit well,” Cleveland coach Mike Pettine said. “It’s disappointing, because what we talk about is being poised and being focused. That’s a big part of all football players, especially the quarterback.” Manziel called the moment a “lapse of judgment.” I call that declaration a denial, and the understatement of the year.

New names or nicknames are supposed to describe and define, not dupe and defraud. We should live up to our names, not play down to them. In other words, what people call us and conclude about us is indicative of our life and our lifestyle.

Facts and not hype should be what we are known for. Christians, above all other people of faith, should live up to the name we have been given. The New Testament book of Acts tells us that the followers of Jesus Christ “were first called Christians at Antioch.” Christian means “like Christ.” However, during the First Century, the term “Christian” was a derogatory term; a slight and a slur; an insult and an indignity; and it was a disgrace and a dishonor to be called a Christian by the World at that time. But have times changed?

Some overzealous Christians have “hyped” Christianity by preaching and purporting a Prosperity Doctrine. It’s a goofy gospel that says that as Christians we are always to be healthy and happy, wealthy and well-off, blooming and blossoming. By this standard, no Christian should ever have a bad day. Not true. We have created our own hype and can’t live up to it.

Erwin McManus said that “for those of us who live here in the Western World—and any place that has been affected by affluence, security, safety and comfort—there’s a sense where we begin to buy into a subtle theological lie that God promises us safety and security and comfort and wealth…the truth of the matter is that God has never promised us that we would always be secure or comfortable or become wealthy.”

God has promised us that He will be with us through every phase of life, in good times and in bad, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health; just like the marriage vows, God has promised to be with us through it all.

And so the question is, “Have we lived up to our name?” When we perform poorly and behave badly, when we teach wrongly and live imperfectly, we discredit our Lord, and bring shame to his name. So let’s forget the hype; let’s get back to being salt and light, to being cities on a hill, candles on a tall stick, so that men will see us trust God for everything and in everything.