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

As Good As It Gets: Jay Ajayi’s Flying High As An Eagle In Philly

 Jay Ajayi

Jay Ajayi’s debut in Philly was as good as it gets.  He’s off and running, or flying, in Philly and opening day couldn’t have been better for the Eagles and Ajayi, as they steamrolled the Denver Broncos in front of a racous, rockin’ and rolling Lincoln Financial Field crowd. Ajayi was traded to the Eagles for next to nothing (a 4th round draft pick?) and was seemingly dumped and his impact was downplayed because he’s “a problem child” that’s a distraction. But the Eagles said “come to Philly.” And come to Philly he did.

So all of Philly is singing in the rain and dancing in the streets. The Iggles are now 8-1, are in first place in the NFC East with the best record in football and their best start since the Super Bowl Year of ’04.  So go Birds, and atta’ boy Ajayi.  Next Stop: Arlington Texas and the Dallas Cowboys.  And they don’t scare me.

Here’s what ESPN had to say about my Eagles:

“The Philadelphia Eagles went from very good to downright scary with the addition of running back Jay Ajayi. Just ask the Denver Broncos.

Acquired from the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, Ajayi made an instant impact in his Philly debut, breaking off a 46-yard touchdown run as part of an eight-carry, 77-yard performance that helped the Eagles cruise past Denver, 51-23.

‘It was special,’ Ajayi said afterwards. ‘First off, it’s my first touchdown of the season, and it’s exciting for it to have been in Philly in my first game as an Eagle. I don’t think it could have been written any better than that.’

The Eagles, now 8-1, entered the game as the third-ranked offense in the NFL. Still, executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman stayed aggressive at the trade deadline and worked up a deal with old friend Mike Tannenbaum, who holds the same title with the Dolphins, sending a 2018 fourth-round pick to Miami for the 24-year-old Ajayi.

While there were reported concerns about the long-term health of Ajayi’s knee and his effect on Miami’s locker room, the Eagles believed Ajayi could be a system and identity fit based on joint practices with the Dolphins this summer. They were willing to take a risk in hopes he would regain his 2016 Pro Bowl form when he rushed for close to 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns.  Ajayi’s longest run this season with the Dolphins was 21 yards, but he found his home run swing in his first game> with his new team.http://www.espn.com/blog/philadelphia-eagles/post/_/id/22824/with-jay-ajayi-added-to-mix-eagles-look-unstoppable-against-broncos

Von Miller Leaves Dallas in The Dust and The Rest of Us Scratching Our Heads

Von Miller

Who’s going to win the Super Bowl? It’s anybody’s guess.

It’s too early and it’s too close to call, but this early NFL season has everybody scratching their heads and shaking their heads.  First, Brady and Company got shellacked by the Kansas City Chiefs in week one. Then Philly went toe to toe with those same KC Chiefs in a 20-27 game that was close most of the way.

The Dallas Cowboys looked good in week one against the New York “Football” Giants, then laid an absolute egg today against the Denver Broncos, who look as good as gets. The Oakland Raiders, Pittsburg Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and the Carolina Panthers are all undefeated, and it’s anybody’s guess who is the early season favorite to win it all.

So who ya got? Oakland? KC? Is Brady back to form after a bad start, and is Dallas overhyped? After watching them today, the real question is Denver. Are the Broncos  and No. 58, Von Miller, going back to the big dance with their big “D” after proving to Dallas and everyone else that they are still for real?

And what about the boys from Philly, you ask?  Yes, what about ‘dem Eagles?  Thanks for asking.  My answer is what I hated hearing my mom say when my sisters and I asked her stop at a fast food place for dinner.  She would say “we’ll see.”  And that meant no.

 So, are the Eagles in the hunt? We’ll see. That means stay tuned . . .

Cam Newton: Dissapointed and Dissapointing

Cam Newton Presser After Super Bowl

I’m disappointed for and disappointed with Cam Newton, both at the same time.

First, I’m disappointed for Cam because I like Cam. I do. The Carolina Panthers were arguably the best team in football this year and were the favorite to win Super Bowl 50. With a 15-1 regular season record, they seemed destined to win it all. But it just wasn’t meant to be.  And Cam has been up and down and all around as a pro and as a collegian. He’s been beat up and beat down; he’s taken a lickin’ and he keeps on ticking.  Like him or not, you must admit that his story is compelling.

Cam was a back up to Tim Tebow at Florida. Go figure. Then he was dismissed from the Florida Gators program and fell from grace. Cam landed at a Texas Jr. College, won the JuCo National Championship and then worked his way back to Auburn where he won it all – the BCS Championship game, that is.  His is a rags to riches to rags story, for sure.  

But I’m disappointed with Cam because of his attitude and his ingratitude. Hundreds of NFL veterans would kill to play in a Super Bowl. And while I get it that “you play to win the game! Hello!!!” (thank you, Herman Edwards), you simply can’t win them all. No one does.

But Cam didn’t see it that way. Cam can be a ham but his leg of lamb just got cooked by the Denver Bronco’s battering ram of a defense. So while Cam expected to hit a grand slam, his offense hit a log jam. And it wasn’t pretty. Cam gloated and gloried through the regular season and playoffs and he acted as if the Super Bowl was his to have. His entitled spirit has more than a  touch or a tinge or a twinge of conceit and condescension. And so, it appears that his self-inflicted wounds are what’s probably burning him up the most.

And to add insult to injury, Cam’s countenance fell and his body language went to hell as he soured and sulked and slumped and pouted and puttered and muttered through the game that he felt his team should have won. Yet he got beat like he stole from his own momma. It happens at least once to every athlete. He’s been playing competitively almost all of his life, so he should know what it means to be a good sport, and yet he still doesn’t know how to lose. At least not gracefully and respectfully.

So I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed, not that he lost, but that he handled the loss so poorly and so unprofessionally. He stormed out of the presser (post game press conference) after a unbelievably crass appearance as he responded to reporters questions with haughtiness and hubris. Cam’s arrogance was altogether distressing, disturbing and displeasing. And it was unacceptable.

It just goes to show ya, the Bible is STILL right: pride does come before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Denver’s Defense Does It and Peyton Goes Out On Top

peyton-manning-heading-to-super-bowl-wins-afc-championship

You can’t be mad. You can’t (unless of course you’re Cam Newton and his offensive line). Unfortunately, Cam was a sham, but it wasn’t all his fault. Not entirely. Denver’s dominant “D” punished the Panthers as Carolina’s “O” line looked like Swiss cheese. They just couldn’t keep Demarcus Ware and Von Miller, the Super Bowl MVP, off and away from the MVP of the NFL.

Peyton Manning wanted to make one thing perfectly clear when he arrived in the Golden Gate City for the golden anniversary of the Super Bowl: “Our defense is what got us here.” Two years ago, Manning brought along the league’s top offense — in fact, the highest-scoring team in NFL history — and things didn’t work out. This time, he’s tagging along with the league’s No. 1 defense.

The “Orange Rush” finished first in the NFL in sacks, yards per play, pass defense and total defense. But to earn their place atop or even alongside the ’85 Bears or ’00 Ravens, Denver’s fearsome front-seven and star-studded secondary did what few thought they could do: they corralled Cam Newton and beat up and beat down the favored Carolina Panthers.

So, congrats to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Now Peyton, who just won his 200th game, the most in NFL history, can ride off into that orange sunset with a second Super Bowl ring. Manning mustered an almost magical performance this season out of his 39-year-old body and that quick mind. And he deserves all of the accolades he can get. It wasn’t easy and sometimes it wasn’t pretty, but in the end, the old man got it done.

And I’m especially happy for Denver Coach Gary Kubiak. Kubiak is a first year coach who was fired by the Houston Texans mid-season in 2013. Winning the Super Bowl in your first year is not bad and not too shabby, either.

So we get another moral, mystical message and another spiritual, theological lesson from Denver and Manning and Coach Kubiak. Denver lost the Super Bowl two years ago in horrific fashion, and this year, they won going away. So it just goes to show ya: you can comeback from way back and you can turn it all the way around.

Super Bowl 50: Demaryius Thomas, Mom and Sports

 

Bay Bay Moma

Sadly, Demaryius Thomas literally grew up in a crack house. Demaryius was 12 when his mom went to prison, so she missed all of his high school, college and professional games and his successful NFL development.

The last time the Denver Broncos played in the Super Bowl, the mother of Demaryius Thomas did not watch from the stands or from home. Katina Smith and her mother, that’s right – her own mother, Demaryius’s grandmother, were incarcerated and wore jerseys that they had crafted from strips of tape as they watched the game on their prison TV. Katina had been serving 24 years in prison on drug trafficking charges after she turned down a plea deal back in 2000 refusing to testify against her mother, Minnie Pearl Thomas, who is serving life. That’s the bad news.

DT

The good news is that Katina Smith was released five years early from that minimum-security prison in Florida last summer.  Her sentence was commuted in 2015 by President Obama as part of Obama’s push to reduce the prison population of non-violent drug offenders.

After the Super Bowl two years ago, GM John Elway said, ”If we all played like he (Thomas) did, we’d have won.” Thomas’ mother called him after the game. ”She said keep your head up, you’ll get another chance,” Thomas recounted. ”And we got another chance right now. I never thought she would be coming to see me play in the Super Bowl, though. It’s like a dream. It’s a blessing. I’m excited. She’s excited. We’re all excited.”

Back to the present, Thomas caught just two passes for 12 yards in the 2016 AFC Championship game against the Patriots and he had four receptions for 40 yards against Pittsburgh a week earlier – the first time his mother had ever seen him play a football game in person.

After Peyton Manning took a knee in victory formation against the Steelers, he handled the football to Thomas and asked him to give it to his mother. ”She had a ball,” Thomas said. ”She’s still talking about it.” Wow. What a story. And it doesn’t end there. Demaryius loves and is very much concerned about his mom.

“She’s getting used to things a lot faster than I expected,” the star receiver said. ”Oh, she knows how to text now. She uses emojis and all that, Facetime and all that. She caught up quick. The funny thing is she still turns off her phone to charge it.” Thomas still worries about his mother as she navigates modern life outside the lockup. Smith just learned how to drive again, as she is no longer confined to that 20-by-20-foot concrete cell, but sensory overload sometimes imprisons her now.

moms

“I know it’s not easy for her,” Thomas said. ”She gets panic attacks sometimes. I understand that. She’s been gone a long time. I do worry about her. I told her she’d be fine. That’s why I’m going to try to keep her in the hotel most of the time up until the game because she was in a long time.”

That was then, and this is now. Demaryius’ mom made mistakes had missteps and it affected her son. But his mom’s absence did not annul or absolve his ambitions. He had a good support system in his aunt and uncle who took him in. They gave him strict structure and dogged discipline. And Demaryius has emerged as an All Pro Receiver despite starting out as another all out statistic.

demaryius-thomas-katina-smith

And of all the storylines in this special Super Bowl 50, this one about the bond that binds a mother and her son, “Bay Bay’s Mom” and Denver’s DT, is as wholesome and as heartwarming as they come.

Can Cam Carry Carolina?

Cam Newton NFL Draft

So who ya got? Who are you picking to win Super Bowl 50? Peyton or Cam? The Broncos or Carolina? Defense or offense? For me, there are a plethora of plots and subplots in this year’s golden goose of a game, the 50th Super Bowl. But unlike any other Super Bowl, this one will be remembered and recalled and ruminated upon for years to come. And, the play of the quarterback, as always, is front and center stage.

And so the question is this: Can Cam carry Carolina?

As stated earlier in this blog and elsewhere, Cam is the hottest thing since sliced bread when it comes to the NFL. When it comes to gloating and floating and doting over the game that took ownership of a day of the week from the institutional church, Roger Goodell is no dumbbell. He may have missed it way right in 2015 with Brady and “Deflategate” and Goodell may have blown it way left in 2014 with the Ray Rice “Incident,” (https://godandsports.net/2014/09/18/roger-goodell-and-the-nfls-week-from-hell/)  but Goodell certainly can tell that Cam can be a bombshell and this William Tell can ignite a groundswell that can define and carry the entire NFL for years to come. And that’s the storyline of this Super Bowl in a nutshell.

As for Cam, he has carried his team thus far. First of all, Cam can carry his own weight. He was drafted No. 1 and he wears No. 1 and he wants to be No. 1, but he will have to get past Peyton first. And if he loses, all of those records and stats and firsts and figures mean nothing. But if Carolina wins it all . . . Sure there might be next year, but next year will be easier to win again if they win right now.

Cam is carrying his team and his teammates and his conference and his city and his race and his religion and everything else that his haters want to dump on him. And he’s carrying them all, with grace. But how does he do it?

Warren Moon described how Cam is carrying all of this so, so well:

First, we had to prove we could play the position,” Moon said. “Then we had to face questions about our leadership abilities. Even when you look at the guys who played the position in my time — myself, Doug Williams, even a Randall Cunningham — we were all laid back. Now it’s more of a ‘me’ generation and you can show more of your personality. It used to be that you had to be more like a politician than a football player to be a black quarterback. Cam plays the game with his personality.

That’s it! That’s absolutely it. Cam is being HIMSELF. He’s playing the game with his personality. Yes many clam that Cam is a ham, but I beg to differ. If you or I had been through half of what this young man has been through, and he went through all of his stuff in the fishbowl of the public spotlight, we may have acted and reacted differently. Cam has set more records and run for more yards and scored more touchdowns and put up more points than you can shake a stick at. And that’s why winning the Super Bowl is so important for him. As if he hasn’t already validated himsellf.

 

So here’s to a great game. I like Peyton Manning. I do. And if he wins, I will be glad for him. Because this Super Bowl is really a “win win.” Cam or Peyton, both are so deserving and so admired and so well-liked that it’s hard not to root for both of them. So, as they say, may the best team, not necessarily the best quarterback, win.